It's been three days since my grandma has slept. Anyone have any ideas on how to make her sleep? She seems untired. She isn't even yawning or napping or anything. The doctor said to try her some anti-psychic meds. Even those aren't helping. Personally I'm going crazy. She has severe dementia so she might be going crazy too but with her dementia it might not be noticeable.

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littlemisskitty, I think that the wacko sleep schedules (or non-schedules) of persons with dementia has got to be among the top reasons for care-center placements. I surely would have had to place my husband in care if his doctors had not been able to come up with some drugs to help with the problem.

The problem is that your gram has dementia. This is not about caffeine or anxiety or good bedtime hygiene or consumption of sugar or taking naps during the day. Addressing some of those things may help some, but the core cause of this issue is that there is damage in your gram's brain that has seriously messed with her sleep cycle.

I am not trying to suggest just giving up. Try any reasonable approaches you can think of and that the doctors recommend. You may be lucky as my husband and I were. If not, keep firmly in mind that this is Not Your Fault. It is not Mom's fault. It is nothing anyone is doing wrong. It is the damn dementia!

You may need to have in-home care overnight to deal with this. Or, if Mom needs the level of care provided by a nursing home, that might ultimately be the solution. I know from personal experience that a zombie trying to take care of a person with dementia is not a good thing. You need your sleep.

Nursing homes do have to deal with people who have sleep issues. The first month that my mother was in an NH she would be up most of the night. They sat her outside the nursing station so they could keep an eye on her, and gave her things to do. She loved folding the terry cloth bibs. She did crossword puzzles. She looked at magazines. Of course she could do all this at home, too, but the point is the nursing home is staffed all night with well-rested people who get breaks and get to go home at the end of their shifts. And who are experienced at dealing with person who have dementia.

Work with her doctors. (It was a nuerologist and a sleep psychiatrist who came up with my husband's solution.) But understand that ultimately the only solution might be 24 hour supervision.

I hope you will take the time to keep us updated about what you are trying and what the results are. This is a VERY common problem in dementia. We learn from each other.
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sorry about the typos.................I hit post button too quickly
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Boredom is a big worry for me. I think mom is bored but she absolutely refuses to participate in anything. Believe me I have tried! The only thing she likes is to take a ride in the car sitting right beside me. I can't drive around all day - but that's what she wants. I tried to get her to make brownie with me this afternoon. Mom, I need you to stir this for me please. She half heartedly took the spoon and dragged it across the bowl. Then said, get this away from me I'm done." As program chairman in my own house, I'm a failure and I feel guilty. I drive her around as much as possible but she is literally glued to my side all day AND all night. My mom also gets up all night and starts her day each time and I have to talk her into going back to bed. I had a dream last night that she crawled into my bed and wouldn't leave. Her arms and legs were choking me.
The cycle I notice is........................awake every hour all night for 3 days.......then sleep all night for 2 days (probably from not sleeping previous days). Then it starts all over.
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Kitty, no one is going to sit with anyone night and day. Nursing homes just don't have the staff for that kind of personal attention.

Mulatta's advice is spot on - figure out the cycle. There's some reason why this is happening. If you don't get support from her PCP, or internist, try an endrocrinologist. That might be something happening at that level.

Also, keep track of her diet. Foods like turkey that contain tryptophan are sleep inducers. But don't try tryptophan supplements; years ago there were some issues about side effects with the supplements. And good old turkey just can't be beat!

But it's also possible that it has nothing to do with bodily functions but is more social or physical. If she gets up, I assume she can walk. Can you get her to do some exercises, even just walking back and forth, or leg lifts while she's sitting down? Perhaps one of her doctors could script for home PT and give her some moderate exercises to do.

There's another possibility - she's just plain bored. Does she read? Work puzzles? What can she do that will focus her concentration? Music is a great therapy; my sister told me they played music for the psychiatric patients when she worked in a psych hospital.

Art therapy is another calming activity. There's a proliferation of medium quality coloring books available now. Just the act of coloring, even with crayons, requires focus and concentration. However, if there's more going on that interrupts that concentration, you'll have to ask the doctors to dig deeper. \

What about visitors? Does she have any social interaction outside of your home? Have you taken her to Senior Center activities?
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Tart Cherry juice can help and it has other benefits besides. How about self-meditation types she could listen to. I know my mind works overtime and keeps me awake so something she could focus on such as music etc. besides her thoughts.
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Have you tried melatonin?
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Okay so this is a cycle. You nailed it!
Chart the frequency of the cycle.
What could trigger it.
Find common denominator as you compare cycles.
If her meds were not changed, then, what did change to cause it.
Take your notes to her MD.
Is she being treated by a psychiatrist? A geriatric doctor?
The circadian rhythm is a way to keep the same time for the same things. When she can't sleep and you don't either, it will be chaotic for both of you.
It seems to me that there is a deeper issue going on with this being cyclical.
Inform the MD. Perhaps blood work while she's in the awake part of the cycle could reveal a root cause.
There are many different types of herbal remedies that could help. However, if she's on meds, herbs can be dangerous.
Old fashioned way, warm milk (tryptophan) helps, if she can have milk.
Best idea I have is to contact the MD and explain.
Hopefully this cycle can be broken!
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Many times. She has anxiety but I guess when placed on the meds for anxiety in the past, it made her dementia worse. I wasn't caring for her back then but instead my mom was and so I am not quite sure the side effects to whatever pill she was on. She has severe anxiety and in fact because of this reason I am toying with the idea of placing her in a nursing home because I figure there they are paid to sit with a person all day and night where as I cannot because I'm running a household, trying to pack up a house and will soon be going back to work and can't handle not having her sleep.

I wouldn't mind if she was quiet nonsleeper but instead she is constantly looking for attention while not sleeping and wanting to get up for any and all excuse and since I use a baby monitor with her so she's safe, ignoring her isn't really an option. I just can't imagine how it feels for her not to be sleeping at all and if there is anything I'm missing in terms of helping her to get the much needed sleep.

As for pills, nothing changes. She's been stable in her pills and she has cycles. She'll sleep good for a few weeks then suddenly she will stay up for 3 days at a night, then will just continue the cycle again and again.
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The first issues I'd think about are what meds she's taking and when she's taken them, and what her diet is like.

Is she drinking coffee in the evening? Eating sugary foods in the evening, or during the day?

And what meds is she on? Have you researched to see if any have side effects of causing sleeplessness?

Another issue is anxiety, which can easily cause enough mental agitation to keep someone awake.

Has this ever happened before?
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