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Why Is My Senior Loved One Having Night Terrors?

By Nick Paciello, 9:00 am on

Night terrors are often confused with nightmares, but they are not one and the same. For some seniors receiving home care in Henderson, especially those with dementia, these terrors can seem real and cause them to become agitated and violent even after waking up. If your elderly loved one is experiencing this sleep disorder, it’s important to understand the reasons why so the issue can be properly treated. Here are a few possible causes for night terrors.

Sleeping in an Unfamiliar Environment

It is not uncommon for seniors who have recently moved in with loved ones or into an assisted living facility to experience sleep disruptions, including night terrors. The different sights, sounds, and even smells can be disorienting, especially if your loved one has dementia. Try to keep your loved one’s sleep time and routine as close to normal as possible. You can also help your loved one feel more comfortable by making sure he or she has a few familiar items available in the new bedroom, such as a favorite pillow or blanket.

Sundowning

Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia frequently experience increased anxiety and confusion in the evening. These bouts may even include hallucinations and combativeness. This phenomenon, known as sundowning, can even affect the sleep cycle and lead to nighttime wakefulness, wandering, and night terrors. Medications may be able to help to a limited extent. However, the primary focus should be on eliminating safety hazards that could cause injury to your loved one during one of these episodes.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep-related breathing issues like sleep apnea are common among people over age 70. These problems can cause your loved one to experience interrupted sleep cycles. The long-term oxygen deprivation can even lead to heart problems and cognitive decline. If you suspect your loved one has sleep apnea, you can ask his or her doctor about ordering a sleep study. If the study confirms the diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe supplemental oxygen or a CPAP machine, which can promote your loved one’s sleep and overall health.

Other Physical Health Conditions

The majority of seniors experience one or more age-related issues that cause pain and discomfort. Arthritis, restless leg syndrome, constipation, and Parkinson’s tremors can all cause sleep deprivation and extreme fatigue, which can lead to night terrors. In most cases, these conditions can be managed with the appropriate medication as advised by a doctor.

If you are concerned about your loved one’s wellbeing during the sleeping hours, consider hiring a part-time caregiver from Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available 24/7 to ensure your loved one has a restful and safe sleep and also help with a wide array of tasks during the waking hours. We also offer live-in care and specialized Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia care in Henderson. For more information on how better sleep can promote your loved one’s overall health, call a Care Manager today at (702) 527-7723 to schedule a free in-home consultation.