Managing sleep problems in people with Alzheimer’s — Tips

Alzheimer’s disease often affects a person’s sleeping habits. It may be hard to get the person to go to bed and stay there. Someone with Alzheimer’s may sleep a lot or not enough, and may wake up many times during the night.

Here are some tips that may help caregivers manage sleep problems in people with Alzheimer’s disease:

  1. Help the person get exercise each day, limit naps, and make sure the person gets enough rest at night. Being overly tired can increase late-afternoon and nighttime restlessness.
  2. Plan activities that use more energy early in the day. For example, try bathing in the morning or having the largest family meal in the middle of the day.
  3. Set a quiet, peaceful mood in the evening to help the person relax. Keep the lights low, try to reduce the noise levels, and play soothing music if he or she enjoys it.
  4. Try to have the person go to bed at the same time each night. A bedtime routine, such as reading out loud, also may help.
  5. Limit caffeine.
  6. Use nightlights in the bedroom, hall, and bathroom.

Learn more about sleep and Alzheimer’s disease on the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral website.

Understanding Frontotemporal disorders (FTD)

You may not have heard of frontotemporal disorders (FTD) such as frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, and movement disorders, but scientists estimate that they make up about 10% of all cases of dementia, and are more likely to strike at an earlier age. Though we hear more about Alzheimer’s disease, FTD can also rob people of basic abilities like thinking, talking, walking, and socializing.

 

Learn the basics of frontotemporal disorders, including changes in the brain.

 

Find out more about other forms of dementia that aren’t Alzheimer’s.

Health professionals—get tools and training for your practice

Health professionals—physicians, nurses, social workers, and others—play an important role in identifying and caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Check out Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resources for Professionals to access FREE resources on topics like:

  • Tools for assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management
  • Disease-specific information
  • Professional training and curricula
  • Clinical trials and studies
  • Patient care
  • Patient and caregiver education

Minimize danger around the house—tips for caregivers

People with Alzheimer’s disease may not see, smell, touch, hear and/or taste things as they used to. Make life safer around the house by:

  • Checking foods in the refrigerator often. Throw out anything that has gone bad.
  • Put away or lock up things like toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, rubbing alcohol, soap, or perfume. They may look and smell like food to a person with Alzheimer’s.
  • If the person wears a hearing aid, check the batteries and settings often.

Remember to re-evaluate the safety of the person’s home as behavior and abilities change.

Learn more about home safety for people with Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s research—what you can do to help

“When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I wanted to do everything possible to fight the disease, not give in to it. I talked with my doctor about possible treatments. He helped me find a clinical trial that was right for me. Now I get to talk with Alzheimer’s experts. Plus, I know I’m doing something that might help my children and grandchildren avoid the disease.”

This is an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research. Advances are being made because thousands of people have participated in clinical trials and studies to learn more about the disease and test treatments.

You can help. Check out Participating in Alzheimer’s Research: For Yourself and Future Generations to learn about:

  • Types of clinical research
  • Common questions about participating in research
  • Why placebos are important

Why studies need all kinds of people

Make communication easier for a person with Alzheimer’s disease

Check out these 5 tips to make communication easier between you and a person with Alzheimer’s:

  • Make eye contact and call the person by name
  • Be aware of your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at the person, and your body language
  • Encourage two-way conversation for as long as possible
  • Use other methods besides speaking, such as gentle touching
  • Try distracting the person if communication creates problems

Visit the ADEAR website to learn more about the changes in communication that may accompany Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercising with Alzheimer’s

Regular exercise can have many benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease, though some people may have trouble getting around during the later stages. If the person with Alzheimer’s has trouble with tasks like walking, choose gentle forms of exercise like:

  • Simple household chores like sweeping and dusting
  • Riding a stationary bike
  • Using soft rubber exercise balls or balloons for stretching or throwing back and forth
  • Using stretching bands
  • Lifting weights or household items (such as water bottles)

Check out Go4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging, for more ways to be active.