I have been at my wit's end trying to help my 83 year old mother with Alzheimer's Disease sleep through the night. We have tried various different things, activities, restful music, soothing, etc., but she was continuing to get up in the middle of the night and shout down the hall "is it time to get up yet?" and then get agitated if I didn't respond quickly enough. She has been living with my wife and I for eight months in a bedroom down the hall from ours.
She normally goes to bed at 9, but even when I kept her up to 10 PM, we still get this. I am certain it is the dementia creating anxiety in her mind.
To reduce her daytime anxiety and improve cognitive function, our geriatric psychiatrist took her off Namenda, off of Trazodone at night, and we have really only been giving her Rameron at night, and an occasional Clonazepam during the day. The geriatric psychiatrist increased her Remeron from 15 mg to 22.5 mg (we cut another pill in half). Our day center help has asked us to get a second opinion on the medication she is recommending as she is still too agitated in the afternoon.
But the night time waking up and shouting has been exhausting us, as this has been going on for months.
So in desperation this week, I drove by the drug store and picked up Melatonin 5 mg to give her with her evening medicine. She seems to be sleeping now until 5:30 - 6 AM, which is a big improvement. The night before I started it, she got agitated in the middle of the night and started getting destructive, so I needed to do something. So I tried it for just two nights with her. I am going to stop now and see if there is a difference.
I think the Alzheimer's Disease makes certain drugs "work" for a while, and then as it progresses/changes the brain, the drugs effectiveness also wears off.
My wife thinks my mother is just sleeping better now because she finally got exhausted. Maybe. I am hopeful the Melatonin is providing some comfort for her to sleep. And yes, I have a call into my doctor on this.
What other experiences have caregivers had with Melatonin? Has anyone used Melatonin with Remeron?
I take 20MG in the form of two 10MG time-release tablets and it really helps me sleep. The only side effect that I've ever heard of for melatonin is that there's suspicion it might decrease your body's natural melatonin level, but with your mother, I don't think that was a factor at all. (Low levels of natural melatonin are not dangerous.) Bless you for taking good care of your mother, and I hope that you will rest easy knowing that you didn't harm her by giving her melatonin.
Your mother died when it was her time to die, and she died as a result of a serious disease she had. You were assisting her to the very last minute. Be proud of that. Be proud of the help you were able to give her this past year. I hope you can move forward with the grieving process without this unreasonable feeling of guilt.
I hope some of this helps, if only a little. God bless
Turkey dinners are an alternatve of inducing sleep. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid. Ever wonder why folks get so sleepy after turkey dinners?
You could also try turkey dishes alternating with turkey sandwiches, or just some turkey as a snack at night.
No experience with Remeron either; other than times when my father was medicated while in facilities, our philosphy is keep the meds to a minimum and substitute natural sources and activities.
Good luck with some sleep inducing activities; it sounds as though you're not getting much of your own.