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Insomnia and caregiving

Many seniors suffer from sleep disorders, or insomnia, according to Caregiver.com. It is estimated that as many as 30 percent of the elderly population experience apnea, disrupted sleep patterns, and early waking. If insomnia continues for too long, seniors may become depressed and their general health may suffer. Insomnia has many causes, including chronic pain, anxiety, medications, and lifestyle changes. Caregivers may need to consider a number of approaches to the insomnia problem:

• Check to see if any medications list "difficulty falling asleep" as a side effect. If so, discuss with your loved one's health care professional whether another medication can be substituted.

• Limit eating and drinking before bedtime, so that bathroom trips will be less frequent.

• Try to maintain a routine: get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every evening.

• Limit caffeine intake in the afternoon or evening.

• Limit or eliminate smoking, which can cause sleep-disrupting breathing problems.

• Try to incorporate regular exercise into their routine- even a short daily walk can improve sleep patterns.

• Some seniors find television too upsetting- encourage them to read a book to relax before bed.

• Turn off the phone in their room and keep the room dark.

• Try not to get upset or agitated when sleep disruptions occur- this may exacerbate the problem.

• Try to create a stress-free environment before bedtime- engage in pleasant conversations involving happy topics.

• Treat the sleep-disorder solution as a team effort. Encourage their input and opinions. • Resist the urge to use over-the-counter sleep aids. These may provide temporary relief but when used for too long, the body will build a resistance to them.

For more information contact the Caregiver Resource Center.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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