What type of sleep aid can I use for my mom with dementia who's having trouble sleeping?

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Does anyone have a suggestion as to a sleep aid that will give a dementia sufferer sleep vs. increasing the agitation, confusion and only making the dementia worse? My mother is 95, a hospice patient and lives with us along with my 85 year old father-in-law and our 4 month old grandson. My mother has been up numerous nights extremely confused. Of course, everything she says is very real to her and when I try to either reason with her or try to tell her she can't leave at 3am, she digs her heels in. There is no reasoning with her and I can't tie her to the bed. I need something to give her peace from her deeply confused state. I am exhausted and it breaks my heart watching her struggle with a mind that lies to her. Last night I was up all night trying to keep her from taking the car, that she quite driving 5 years ago, to pick up her brother, who died 12 years ago. She has no balance, her legs are weak and she can barely walk yet was fighting me tooth and nail because I had my hand on her arm trying to keep her from falling down. It is extremely frustrating for not only my family and myself, but her as well. I know if I could just give her a pill during those times that would knock her out and give her a good night's sleep by the next morning life would be better......for us all. Last night, I gave her a Darvocet, two Ativan and an anti-depressant that was supposed to help. HA! I know the doctors don't want to prescribe sleeping pills because they can be deadly in the elderly. I am exhausted because I care for my grandson during the day as well as my mother and now I am up all night too. I need some rest. I love my mother with all my heart and soul and would do anything for her comfort. All her life she told me, "If I EVER lose my mind, just pull the plug because I NEVER want to live like that." And here she is alive in the shell that was once my mother. It is so, so sad because I know she is miserable, exhausted and trying to make sense in situations when there is non to be made. I sure could use some suggestions. No she is not hungry, needs to use the bathroom or any of the other issues sometimes associated with agitation. It is her mind making the unreal seem real to her. I feel so awful and it is heartbreaking to watch and deal with. Thanks!

Answers 1 to 10 of 91
If hospice is taking care of her, can't they give her something to help her sleep?
The Mayo Clinic has a health section on Alzheimer's and there was a comprehensive article on SLEEP DISORDERs (AZ00030). Please do a google search for the complete article. We also talked to Mom's doctor about using MELATONIN to promote healthy sleep.

I am going to include some of this article, in hopes of helping you. I would ALSO talk to hospice care and get their input, as they should be experienced with this situation.

How to promote a good night's sleep
Sleep disturbances can take a toll on both you and your loved one. To promote better sleep:

■Think light. Exposing your loved one to a few hours of bright sunlight in the morning may improve his or her sleep at night. Light therapy with a specialized light box may be helpful, too.
■Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine in soda, tea, coffee or other products may contribute to sleeplessness, and alcohol can contribute to confusion and anxiety. If your loved one insists on having a drink, offer a soft drink in a familiar cocktail glass or serve nonalcoholic beer or wine.
■Manage medications. Find out what time of day your loved one should take his or her medications — morning for drugs that have a stimulating effect, and evening for drugs that make your loved one sleepy. Note that sleeping pills are generally discouraged for people who have Alzheimer's. These drugs can increase confusion and the risk of falls.
■Encourage physical activity. Plan your loved one's days to include walks and other physical activities, which can help promote better sleep at night. Taper your loved one's activities as the day winds down, however. Physical activity close to bedtime may leave your loved one too energized to fall asleep.
■Limit daytime sleep. If your loved one needs a nap, make sure it's short and not too late in the day. Have your loved one nap on the couch or in a recliner rather than in bed. If you think staying in bed too long in the morning contributes to nighttime wakefulness, wake your loved one earlier.
■Establish a bedtime routine. Do the same things in the same way every night, such as brushing teeth, using the toilet, listening to soft music and rubbing your loved one's back. If bathing or dressing for bed is difficult, do it earlier in the day. It's also important to create a comfortable place for sleeping. Make sure the temperature in your loved one's bedroom is comfortable. Turn on a night light. Place security objects, such as a favorite blanket, within easy reach.
■Treat underlying conditions. If you suspect that an underlying condition — such as sleep apnea, depression or pain — is interfering with your loved one's sleep, consult his or her doctor. Treatment may lead to more restful sleep for everyone.
My husband has Frontal lobe dementia. I discovered by giving him a Tylenol pm before bed usually keeps him asleep till morning.I would check with you Dr. first because you don't want to mix drugs.Wish you well
Please speak to her doctor about this problem, I would not suggest you give her pain medicine to try and induce sleep. By doing that, it could just give her more anxiety. Sounds like her mind is racing and not slowing down to rest. Please contact her physician and they sould help you along with hospice.
my mom does well on trazodone which was prescribed to her by her dr. I give it to her before bed and she has been sleeping through the night.
manyblessings, how are you doing? Of course you need to go to the dr, or just call him , but I went thru the same thing.First of all, depakote is our savior am/pm . Its not a sleeping pill, sctually they use it for seizures but my mom never had those, The neuro uses this as his first line of defense with dementia related agitation. With her on this, she is sleeping thru most every night now. We tried the trazodone, it caused confusion, tylenol pm worked sometimes and sometimes klonopin. (note, you cannot combine trazodone and klonopin, it is deadly, as your dr) For us, 3 depakote sprinkles daily and no naps works. They do not want o be aggitated either, its frustrating for them and us, been there, its horrid!! good luck
Top Answer
That's been my world for the past year. I still can't believe it's a problem the medical field can't seem to manage. My mom was given Lorazepam (1 mg) which would put her to sleep but she was up and running wild 3 hours later. When she went on hospice (she's off now) her nurse said I could give her another one around 2am. That helped a lot but our answer came when my brother who has terrible (untreatable) insomnia told me about an herbal remedy called "Knock-out" (melatonin and valerian mix I think) which has worked. Occasionally she still gets up around 3 or 4am then I give her the Lorazepam. Her doctor didn't seem to thrilled about an herbal remedy but it's worked and he hasn't come up with a better solution. Good luck. I know how exhausted you must be!

Just a little side note: A few months ago I started sleeping on an air mattress on her floor. She has a child's bed rail which I've read IS A BIG NO NO because they'll hurt themselves climbing over them and I'm sure that's true. In our case however she just rattles it and starts yelling (she could slide down and around it if she was really trying to get out). Anyway, that wakes me up and it only takes a minute to give her the Lorazepam (same as Ativan I think??) and we're both quickly back to sleep. Made a world of difference to me. Sleeping in her room on an air mattress sounds awful but it sure beats chasing her through the house at 3 in the morning and trying to get her back into bed. I could never get back to sleep after wards.....
chl64, we have been thru the wandering over a year and I think its finally under control with the 3 depakote (knock on wood). Just wanted to suggest something to you. We have moms door cut in half and its locked on the opposite side. Its wonderful! She can get up but not out and her room is clutter free safe. A lot of times she goes to the door, then back to bed, or in her chair or recliner. We also have chains on the tops of off of our exit doors but she cant get out of her room, but can look out in the hall an across into our room . We had her mattress on the floor low when she had the broken hip just in case, I also was doing the sleeping on the floor before. good luck with the melatonin, it worked for my mom at first , but then she started not sleeping and I increased it and then she started having bad dreams on it. THe depakote works great, and no naps. Be SO careful on the lorazapam type drugs, my mom tried them and sometimes she was hyper on them, sometimes not, but they constipate terribly. My Mom takes a teaspoon of miralax in her coffee or tea 2x a day. good luck
Lorazepam constipates????? You can probably guess that's our current problem :( I'm afraid you're right about the melatonin mix. Nothing seems to last for very long. I love your half door idea. She doesn't seem to need the sleep. I don't care if she's awake as long as she's safe. I sure would love to sleep in a bed again!!!!!!!!!!
Hey yes , cut the door in half. I can watch my MOm from my bed for the most part she would walk around her room, give up and go back to bed, but she was safe. YES get MIRALAX in your Mom, 2 Tablespoons right away!! Its a powder. My Mom cant swallow pills or I would have her take colace stool softener daily. We are down to 1 teaspoon now am/pm but worked out way down. I also give her pills with prune pudding, do you make that? Going to put mom in bed now, be back...
Oh and by the way, I had to take Mom to the ER to be unimpacted!!! So take care of this problem before that happens ok. be right back

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