Night Care For Dementia Patients: Tips And What You Need To Know

Written By: Elizabeth Kogut
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: May 1, 2022
Last updated: April 2, 2023

It is not uncommon for elderly adults to experience more nighttime awakenings than younger individuals. This can be caused by various circumstances and is occasionally associated with conditions such as dementia. However, in most cases, it is simply due to a shift in their circadian rhythm, or 'body clock.'

According to the Sleep Foundation, the brain region that regulates the body's regular cycles, including sleep, might decline as people age. This then immediately disrupts the circadian rhythm, resulting in sleep disturbances.

Being up at night can cause further problems in the elderly, particularly if they have a condition such as dementia, as awakening throughout the night can cause confusion, resulting in wandering and further sleep disturbances the following days and nights.

Overnight care can assist in ensuring that your loved one is cared for throughout the night if this is a time of difficulty — ensuring their safety and security while also supporting healthy sleeping patterns.

Understanding Overnight Care

Overnight care is not the same as a 'normal' night's sleep. Often, elderly individuals have difficulties sleeping at night. Sleep deprivation worsens degenerative conditions like dementia and has a negative effect on the general well-being of people who live with them.

These nightly disturbances might damage a loved one's confidence and sense of independence when they live alone. As a result, they may experience anxiety and disorientation.

These issues are extremely common for people living with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Sundowning is a phrase that refers to how those who live with these diseases, who are typically older, might become lost and confused throughout the late afternoon, evening, and night. It is occasionally aggravated by the spring and autumn clock changes.

Overnight care provides consistent support throughout the night, reassuring and securing your loved one.

It can be supplied by a variety of individuals, including family members. Alternatively, there are numerous professional care options that include the following:

Ways To Care For An Elderly Loved One Overnight

  • Installing motion-activated lighting in their bedroom and passageway
  • Keeping their paths clear of obstructions
  • Guaranteeing that the house is properly secured
  • Placing a beverage and snack next to their bed
  • Ensuring they get adequate fresh air and exercise in the afternoon and evening
  • Ensuring they are not under the influence of any drowsy sleeping medications
  • Giving adult incontinence underwear and mattress waterproofing

Types Of Professional Overnight Care

Choosing a professional caregiver to stay overnight with your loved one alleviates the uncertainty and anxiety associated with nocturnal difficulties, whether physical, medical, or psychological.

Sleeping Night Care

In this setup, a caregiver will stay in the home of your loved one. This can be beneficial for individuals who are worried about being left alone at night but do not require a great deal of physical support.

The caregiver will stay for a minimum of eight hours and will sleep in their own room but will be accessible to assist your loved one if they require assistance during the night. Typically, a caregiver working a "sleeping night" would anticipate being awakened no more than twice. If your loved one needs additional attention other than this, the shift will be classified as a "waking night."

Waking Night Care

This type of home care involves the caregiver is on duty at your loved one's home for around ten hours. However, different shift lengths can be arranged. They won't require a room or a bed because they won't be sleeping.

If your loved one requires assistance multiple times during the night, this may be the best solution. For instance, they may seek support in shifting their position at regular intervals to avoid developing pressure sores, or they may need medication to be provided at certain times.

For older adults who require dementia care, waking care may be important to maintain their safety during the night. Individuals living with dementia may occasionally be unable to discern when it is nighttime and may rise and attempt to leave the house. They would require in-home night care from a caregiver who is aware of this risk.

A senior who is extremely worried and needs reassurance from a caregiver may also require waking night care.

Sitting Service

This may be necessary if you or another family member provides elderly care for a loved one but requires a night break. A caregiver would attend for a set period, such as two or four hours, to stay with the elderly relative while the primary caregiver took a break.

If you wish to know more home care tips when caring for elderly loved ones with dementia, check out this other article by Senior Strong.

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Elizabeth Kogut works as the editorial head of Senior Strong. Armed with her degree in Nursing from the University of Missouri, Elizabeth ensures that all the site’s content is relevant to seniors today. 
After years of living under the care of your parents and other family members, the time will arrive for you to reciprocate. At Senior Strong, you can show your loved ones just how much you value them.
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