Your client’s healthcare professional should be able to assist you with any questions you may have about their sleep patterns. If prescriptions are the issue, perhaps you will be able to inquire as to whether or not the prescriptions are actually good for your client – or if they are even necessary. It is good to be on top of things, thus showing your clients that you are in their corner and only want the very best for them. Sometimes elders will take it upon themselves to self-medicate; sometimes it is the work of the family members that live with the elder and desire sleep themselves, so they frequently hand out antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds and sometimes over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications – just to appease themselves, not seriously taking into considerations the side effects meds can have – especially sleep medications. According to the NIH, ‘Sleeping medications (such as benzodiazepines) should be used only as recommended, and only for a short time. Some can lead to dependence (needing to take the drug to function) or addiction (compulsive use despite adverse consequences). Some of these drugs build up in your body, and toxic effects can develop if you take them for a long time. Confusion, delirium, falls, and other side effects can develop. You can take measures to help you sleep:
- A light bedtime snack may be helpful. Many people find that warm milk increases sleepiness, because it contains a natural, sedative-like amino acid.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine (found in coffee, tea, cola drinks, and chocolate) for at least 3 or 4 hours before bed.
- Do not take naps during the day.
- Exercise (moderately) in the afternoon.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time each morning.
- Use the bed only for sleep or sexual activity.
If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity, such as reading or listening to music. When you feel sleepy, get back in bed and try again. If you still can’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, repeat the process. Drinking alcohol at bedtime may make you sleepy. However, it is best to avoid alcohol, because it can make you wake up later in the night.’ If you help your client to understand all of this, explaining it with concern and caring, it may just help them begin to sleep better. Whether or not it is the be all end all to the issue is up for grabs but at least you showed your clients one more time That With Age Comes Respect.’