Senior Health

Why Do the Elderly Have Trouble Sleeping at Night?

Why Do the Elderly Have Trouble Sleeping at Night

Aging often comes with trouble falling asleep, sleep that is less deep, frequent nighttime awakenings, overall less sleep

Sleep problems in the elderly are common. Aging often comes with health conditions that can lead to trouble falling asleep, sleep that is less deep, frequent nighttime awakenings, overall less sleep.

Here are 5 common causes of sleep problems in the elderly and how to reduce sleep disturbances.

5 causes of sleep problems in the elderly

1. Sleep disorders

  • Circadian rhythm disorder: Periodic irregularities in your circadian rhythm, the “internal body clock” that keeps your biological processes in sync, are known as circadian rhythm disorders. These sleep disorders are characterized by trouble falling asleep, waking up throughout the sleep cycle or waking up too early, and being unable to go back asleep.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep problem in which your breathing regularly stops during sleep. If you snore loudly and wake up feeling fatigued in the morning, you may have sleep apnea.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder: Periodic limb movement disorder is a disease that affects the muscles of the lower extremities. It involves repeated limb movements that occur during sleep and cause sleep disturbances.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder: REM sleep behavior disorder, also known as dream-enacting behavior, is a sleep disorder in which you respond to vivid dreams during REM sleep by making noises and violent arm and leg movements.

2. Neurological diseases

  • Parkinson’s disease: The incidence of Parkinson’s disease increases with age. It is estimated that up to 40% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience sleep problems.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease can make you feel tired during the day and have trouble falling asleep at night.

3. Underlying medical conditions

4. Mental health disorders

Mental health disorders become more common with age, and can lead to trouble sleeping at night:

5. Medications

Medications used to treat age-related health conditions can also lead to trouble sleeping at night:

  • Anticholinergics
  • Antihypertensive agents
  • Corticosteroids
  • Histamine H2 blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Sympathomimetics
  • Levodopa
  • Herbal medicines

How to reduce sleep problems in the elderly

  • Reduce screen time. Artificial lights at night can stop the body from making melatonin, which is crucial for sleep. Turning off TVs, computers, and other digital devices at least an hour before going to bed may help.
  • Establish a sleep schedule. Even on the weekends and holidays, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. Engage in frequent physical activity. Getting regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
  • Avoid drinking fluids before bedtime. Limit fluid intake before going to bed to reduce the amount of times you have to get up to pee in the middle of the night.
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine before bedtime can cause sleep disturbances. Stop having coffee, tea, and other caffeinated items at least 4hours before sleep.
  • Limit alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may initially help induce sleep but can make your sleep less deep and cause nighttime awakenings. 
  • Avoid smoking at night. Nicotine is a stimulant that disrupts sleep.
  • Limit sedatives and sleep aids. These have adverse effects and are not recommended for long-term use. Sleep medications don’t treat the root cause of insomnia and may possibly worsen it.


Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, Stretching See Slideshow

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022


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Frail, But Living at Home: Program Helps Elderly Stay Strong

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News Picture: Frail, But Living at Home: Program Helps Elderly Stay StrongBy Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 19, 2022 (HealthDay News)

It’s never too late to start exercising — and the right activities might help you stay independent in your home.

While building healthy habits at an earlier age can have some long-term benefits, adding physical activity can help at all ages, new research suggests.

A new study found that physically frail elderly people and low muscle mass (sarcopenia) were able to reduce their level of “mobility disability” by 22% over three years, using a program that included specific changes to their exercise habits and diets.

The formula for success involved adding extra walking, along with strength, flexibility and balance exercises, to their daily routine. It also included increasing their protein intake, according to the paper published May 11 in the BMJ.

The findings confirm the value of structured physical activity in older adults living on their own, said Dr. Thomas Gill, author of an editorial accompanying the study.

“We hear time and time again that the most important objective that older persons will report is that they want to maintain their independence as they grow older, meaning that they don’t want to have to rely on others for accomplishing their day-to-day activities,” said Gill, a professor of geriatric medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.

Many of the activities that people want to maintain as they grow older, from managing the distance between parking space and grocery store and then walking while shopping in the store, require a certain level of mobility, Gill noted.

“When someone loses the ability to have independent mobility, that’s often a very powerful risk factor for subsequent poor outcomes, meaning that you may lose the ability to manage some more basic activities,” such as bathing and dressing independently, he explained.

Study co-author Dr. Emanuele Marzetti said as a geriatrician, he is sometimes concerned about overdiagnosis and overtreatment, but not so when the prescription is exercise.

“I think we have enough evidence to prescribe physical activity and optimal nutrition without running additional trials,” said Marzetti, from the Centre for Geriatric Medicine at Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome, Italy.

Study participants included more than 1,500 men and women with an average age of 79 from 16 clinical sites in 11 European countries. About half received the exercise intervention. The others — the control group — received monthly education on healthy aging.

Participants wore an actimeter on their thighs to measure activity. All were followed for 36 months.

At the start of the trial, nearly half (47%) of those in the intervention group had mobility disability, as did 53% of the intervention group. However, all could walk about two-tenths of a mile on their own.

Physical performance scores improved more in the exercise group than in the control group after both 24 months and 36 months, researchers said.

Also, women in the group that received the intervention lost less muscle strength and less muscle mass at 24 months and less muscle mass at 36 months. No differences in muscle mass or strength were found in the men.

Guidelines do exist to indicate how to prescribe physical activity, even for frail older people, Marzetti said, but they tend not to be addressed in medical school.

“We simply took those guidelines and adapted to the conditions we were studying. We didn’t do anything special. We did what should be done on a daily basis in a geriatric clinic or actually in the medical office as well,” Marzetti said.

As a society, Gill said an important way to make it more possible for seniors to walk would be to remove impediments to community mobility. This would include making neighborhoods safe to walk in by having protected walking paths or indoor paths.

Gill also suggested that a more abbreviated way to identify who might be at risk of losing independent mobility, rather than conducting a full battery of tests, would be to simply evaluate gait speed.

“Ideally, these individuals could then be referred to structured physical activity programs in the community,” Gill wrote in the editorial.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on maintaining mobility and preventing disability.

SOURCES: Emanuele Marzetti, MD, PhD, geriatrician, Centre for Geriatric Medicine, Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic, Rome, Italy; Thomas M. Gill, MD, Humana Foundation professor of geriatric medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; BMJ, May 11, 2022

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, Stretching See Slideshow

Can You Refuse to Care for an Elderly Parent?

Can you refuse to care for elderly parent?

Filial responsibility laws were enacted to guarantee that the elderly are cared for after they are unable to care for themselves.

Everyone is obligated to take care of their elderly parents. Yes, you can refuse to care for elderly parents. However, filial responsibility laws obligate children to provide their parents with clothing, food, housing, and medical attention. In the United States, each state has its laws requiring children to take care of their elderly parents.

In 30 states, an adult is liable for their old parents’ care after they are unable to care for themselves. However, the statute establishing this filial obligation has never been implemented in 11 of these states. So, depending on your living situation, you may or may not be required to care for your old parents.

What are filial responsibility laws?

Filial responsibility laws were enacted to guarantee that the elderly are cared for after they are unable to care for themselves. When old people are unable to care for themselves, their children must take care of them. Filial responsibility laws are only found in 30 states.

  • In Arkansas, the child is exclusively liable for mental health-related medical expenditures. However, children of elderly parents are not forced to pay for nursing home or hospital visits.
  • Some state laws are less stringent, such as Arkansas, while others, such as Pennsylvania, take these regulations very seriously.

According to regulations in 27 states, including Puerto Rico, children have a filial responsibility to take care of financial commitments if their parent is unable to do so. These laws fluctuate based on where you reside, as do the degrees of enforcement.

Ethical considerations

If you are leaving your parents, you may have made enough preparations for care, yet you still feel as if you are abandoning your loved one. Consider speaking with a professional about your thoughts and get assistance to develop a strategy for going ahead.

Be prepared to cope with familial repercussions. Assume you have been the primary caregiver and you refuse to continue, or you reject to begin caregiving in the first place. Your family may be upset by this and may express their displeasure to you. Your actions may make your parent feel abandoned and neglected. This might irreparably damage your relationships.

7 reasons why someone would reject to care for their elderly parent

  1. Financial crisis
    • Families who care for their loved ones spend an average of $140,000 a year. This is not the complete cost but only the portion that Medicaid does not usually cover.
    • This is a substantial sum of money for any family to take on. It is not an amount you can budget for, and it is difficult to do so when your relationship with your aging parents is damaged.
  2. Lack of time
    • Everyone’s schedules, occupations, and families are unique. Due to demanding jobs, it gets difficult for many to care for their aging parents. Caring for an aging parent requires time and money, which some individuals cannot afford.
  3. Difficult relationship with parents
    • If you do not have a healthy connection with your parent, your parents and your mental health may suffer. When an aging parent requires care, they should be placed in the best possible circumstances. Living in a toxic environment may impact their overall health negatively.
    • When determining who will care for your aging parents, you should consider your emotional and mental health.
  4. Your physical and mental health is affecting
    • Caring for another person takes a lot of time and energy. When you must give up hobbies or a career that you enjoy to care for your parents, it can have an impact on your quality of life and happiness.
    • A bad influence on these two areas can have a substantial impact on your mental health. If caring for an older parent has a detrimental impact on your quality of life, you may need to examine other possibilities.
  5. Parents refuse help
    • If you have a terrible and stressful connection with your parent, it may be time to distance yourself from them. Despite your best efforts, some parents refuse your assistance. 
    • You might feel frustrated. 
  6. Your family responsibilities
    • You may have your family to support, including your partner and children. There is frequently insufficient time, energy, or finances to adequately assist them while caring for elderly parents.
  7. Moving to a new location
    • This occurs more frequently than you may expect. It is not uncommon for family caregivers to reach retirement age and desire to relocate to a more temperate and economical location. When you move, there may be no other family members to give care to.


Exercises for Seniors: Tips for Core, Balance, Stretching See Slideshow

What to do when you cannot take care of your elderly parent

Admitting that you require assistance is the first step in caring for your parent. It seems difficult or frightening at times, but they are not growing any younger. When you have accepted that your parents need care, the next step is to figure out how to break the news to them. You may grieve or feel guilty after understanding this.

It is never easy to know what to do when your parent requires further assistance. Do not beat yourself if you have difficulty providing a good life for them. Even the most skilled family caregivers ultimately struggle to provide adequate care and might benefit from the support of specialists who have dealt with similar situations.

Aside from the legal implications of not being able to care for someone, there are other remedies to consider. You should take the opportunity to educate people about your decision before jumping. It will give them time to process your choice and will aid in planning.

Consider the following options if you cannot care for your elderly parents:

  • Home care
    • You can get private caregivers from a home-care service. Based on state regulations, these caregivers can provide several services. There is a cost connected with this sort of care unless your parent has long-term care insurance. Home care, however, can enable someone to remain at home while receiving much-needed help and companionship.
    • Home health care is medical treatment provided by a home health agency for a certain period. At the very least, it can give some short-term assistance. If your parent has extremely low means and is eligible for Medicaid, home services may be a viable option.
    • If the home health benefit has expired and private caregivers are unable to undertake some medical duties owing to state rules, private nursing may be an option. This is a costly alternative, but it provides a degree of medical care that may be reassuring.
  • Advanced planning
    • If you have chosen to discontinue caring for your elderly parent, consider creating end-of-life care and advance planning agreements.
    • If no other family member is ready to take on this task, consider hiring a professional service. Contact an elder law attorney who can help you sort through your options.
  • Assisted living
    • Assisted living is a possibility if you or your parent can afford it. Most assisted living organizations can certainly provide much of the care that you presently provide. The higher the degree of care, in most circumstances, the higher the expense.
    • If your parent’s care needs are minor, consider cohousing or other forms of congregate housing. However, support services in these environments will be restricted.
  • Professional guardianship
    • The word guardianship refers to a person or organization being appointed by a court to handle a person’s healthcare and finances because they lack the competence to do so on their own. Consider hiring a professional firm if you feel your parents need a guardian but are unwilling to take on that responsibility. Otherwise, you risk exposing your parent to exploitation.
    • Guardianship is often seen as a last resort because individual rights are taken away and handed to someone else. Because the courts prefer a family guardian, you should talk to other siblings who might be willing to step in and aid.
  • State resources
    • Funding and eligibility requirements vary with states, but it is worth looking into any programs that might aid your parent.
    • Planning for substitute care might help you and your parents relax. They may not like the notion at first, but they will most likely adjust over time. Be at ease if, after evaluating all your alternatives, you are certain of your decision.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022


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