Sleep Disorders

Studies have shown that people with Sundowner’s Syndrome have a tendency to have sleep disturbances. This isn’t uncommon with elderly people who don’t suffer with any form of dementia, but for those with Sundowner’s, sleep problems only make the Sundowner’s symptoms more problematic. A Sundowner’s sufferer will no doubt exhibit symptoms every time they awaken.

Sleep disturbances in the elderly are often caused by the physical problems that go along with growing old and the resulting pain and discomfort, which awakens them several times during the night. Heart ailments, arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease shakes, Restless Leg Syndrome, depression, indigestion, constipation, and sleep apnea can all cause disturbed sleep. While breathing problems like sleep apnea occur in people of all ages, it’s extremely common in people over 70. Depression is also very common in the elderly, and some of these ailments may be addressed with medication that will diminish the sleep interruptions.

The hallucinations and agitation caused by Sundowner’s Syndrome can also cause sleep disturbances.

First and foremost, make sure the Sundowner’s patient avoids caffeine and sugar, especially in the hours before bedtime. It also helps to avoid any liquids for a couple of hours before bed. If your loved one takes any medications that make him or her sleepy during daytime hours, speak with your doctor about alternative medications.

Exercise a few hours before bed may also help to cause fatigue at the right time of night. Massage, soft and soothing music, reading in a soft voice, or even warm milk or sheets warmed in the microwave can help someone to relax and sleep. Of course, quiet is absolutely essential!

Sleep Disorders in the Elderly – Part 2

Sometimes, the elderly can begin to reverse their body’s sleep schedule until they sleep during the day and stay awake at night. This is, of course, extremely disruptive to caregivers. You can try to keep the lights bright during the day and dim them in the evening to get the body’s clock back on a proper schedule. This is the opposite of the instruction to keep lights on during the night to prevent Sundowner’s symptoms. When a reversal of sleep schedule occurs, however, promoting sleep at night becomes a priority, as your own health is also at stake.

The supplement melatonin is also sometimes used to help a person sleep at the proper time. Never give a person with dementia over-the-counter sleep medications, however, as some of these can exacerbate the Syndrome. See a doctor if the sleep issue becomes unmanageable, and you may also want to doublecheck the Physician’s Desk Reference to make sure any sleep medications are not a problem in terms of other ailments and medications.

Better sleep is an enigma for many people, but there are definitely strategies which can encourage it. Elderly people tend to live more sedentary lives and stay indoors more than when they were younger. This means they get less exercise and less sunlight, both of which are important for a good night’s sleep. A walk during the day in the sunlight can do a great deal to help with both of these issues.

If hunger keeps your loved one awake, encourage a light meal prior to sleep. However, the food you choose is very important. Sugar and caffeine work as stimulants, and alcohol also interferes with sleep. Heavy foods may also cause stomach discomfort during the night.

73 replies on “Sleep Disorders”

Help my mother-in law is in a resential care fac. she has dementia and bad sundowners we need to find a sleeping aide to let her stayin bed at night or she has to leave. her dr is against adavan or lorazapan which workd for others. he only wand halodol she isnt eating only baby food etc any advice on what to give her.she is walking walking and up and down and up and donw all night

My mother too has occasional sleep disturbances. Haldol only increases her confusion when she hasn’t been sleeping. If she stays awake 1 full day, 1 full night and the whole next day, I give her 100mg trazadone and .025 morphine inside her mouth. This seems to work every time. I will never give her Haldol again after how it affected her.
I hope this helps

So is my 90 year old father
I’m SERIOUSLY overwhelmed
& so tired I do cry
My LIFE is unimaginable
He won’t even take a bath!
Oh God
Am I doing the right thing?

I am with all of you on this. My dad is 94. I’ve been trying to keep him at home, and have tried finding caregivers, only to be overwhelmed with scheduling, and being up all night with him, then having to go to work the next day. I can’t think straight and I feel like crying all the time. You are not alone, and I’m glad to see i’m not either. thank you@

Aww I’m so sorry your overwhelmed, your not getting the right help.I am a Care giver I am currently doing live-in for a patient, I stay up many if nights with her AND NEVER MIND, ITS MY JOB AND MY PLEASURE ????,I PRAY THINGS GET BETTER SOON .

Oh no ….. sounds exactly like me
Horribly exhausting. My mom is also 94 drives me crazy has dementia lives in denial but I love her so I can’t put her in a dirty home in Boston
She lives on the waterfront with me 5 star building misses her 10 brothers and sisters talks in her sleep confused all day will not take instructions stubborn irish insults me all day
Will not go to a day care

Oh no ….. sounds exactly like me
Horribly exhausting. My mom is also 94 drives me crazy has dementia lives in denial but I love her so I can’t put her in a dirty home in Boston
She lives on the waterfront with me 5 star building misses her 10 brothers and sisters talks in her sleep confused all day will not take instructions stubborn irish insults me all day
Will not go to a day care

Honey, I have up everything and moved into my mom’s home to take care of her, it was either that are she was going to be heading into a nursing home soon. My mom is 89, and has dementia . There are times are have to put your foot down and make them do what you know is right, like bathing, eating, and going to the Dr. They simply don’t have a choice, and that’s what you tell them. Be sweet, let it come from the heart, but be stern.
Once you decide at this point in their life they are no longer doing what is in their best interest, your life will become easier making them do what needs to be done…
And if you need to do him you will give him a bath, so be it! My mom did they exact same thing to me, like a 2 yr old…
We still have our moments lol… But she knows I’m here for her cause I love her!!!! I’ve been here going on 2 yrs…. I do everything for her, cut her hair, do her nails, give her pedicures , cook, clean, I take her out… I’m trying to make her last years fun!!!

My dad is doing the same thing he has congestive heart failure and dementia and cancer on his kidneys , I’ve chosen not to tell him about the cancer. But he won’t bath, sleep is short ! They won’t give sleep aids he is 80 ! He needs the rest and so do I!

I have kaiser so l went home with a hospice team. My mom had cancer and wanted to pass in her home with all of her family there. Please call a hospice center, they are wonderful, they feed and bathed my mom everything was free the care is AMAZING, shampoo diapers toothpaste toothbrush lotion chubs hospital bed potty chair wheel chair. Even the thing that rolls under bed like a nite stand everything is free the best thing about hospice is the CARE, can not say enough
father hear her prays God Bless You, Janis Cloutier from California


My mum wont take baths or showers either and the sound of water scares her you have to adapt wash where you can even if that means next to the bath or get someone else to wash him once a day. Good luck 😉

My father passed away 8 months ago and during the time he was in the hospital, our family Dr. put our mother (she has alzheimer’s) on zyprexa. It has been wonderful for my mother as far as her sleeping. Her sundowning starts around 4pm everyday and last until 6 or 7. She was much worse before the zyprexa.

So glad I found this info and message board. My 88 yr old father started getting out of bed a few weeks ago after 4 years of having assistance morning and night. We have tried bed rails and putting his wheelchair in the way but he seems to have super human strenghth and moves things when we are not there,, then can’t get off the toilet during the day. He has parkinson like symptoms, as does his sister, but when treated with those meds, she almost died.. so we are at a loss for that. He remembers getting up and says someone was calling him?? Hes not sleeping at all and almost refuses to drink fluids at times, yet says hes not ready to go.. He is not alone in the home, but my reletive can not stay up all night to watch him and neither can I.. the nurse has suggested the bed alarm, has anyone tried it? I started him on meletonin 3 mg last night, doctor said to increase dose tonight to see if it helps, up to 10 mg in a week. This is so scarey, but my sister and I can not lose our own sleep worrying, we just pray every night he is safe.

When they don’t want fluids, it’s a good idea to check fir urinary tract infection — they may be having pain on urination, amd trying to avoid it. Even a mild UTI can wreak havoc with the eldetly, so watch for fluid avoidance, weakness, and mental confusion.

my mother is 96yrs old, has sundowner and dementia. I took her out of nursing home and off all meds she was on. We give her 10mg of melatonin every night and it works great. She seems to go through cycles now where one a month or so she stays awake all night. I have a baby monitor so I can hear what she is up too, also a bedrail for safety. She too hates showers, we just put her in the shower chair and so wat we have to do, she thanks us in the end.

I am a caregiver of the elderly for over 30 years. What I see on this board is typical… real consistent solution. This has been my experience, too. If there were a drug of choice we would all know about it and use it. I recommend trial and error under a Dr.’s supervision. The solution can be very individual with different results for different folks. God bless all the caregivers.

Thanks for the common sense- I’m realizing that we can put a man on the moon but not help an elder sleep! I’m going on 70+ days now with Mom getting up every 45-70 minutes at night- all night, to ‘go potty’. She’s 92. I’m “it”. No female family in this state to assist, no funding for respite. She’s lived with me six years now, I’ve commuted to her place for an additional thirteen years, and she’s the sixth family member I’ve cared for. I had to give up the day job, and now had to give up working from home (commercial designer). I’m just exhausted. And very very concerned…

awwww, makes sense , my mother has been going potty a lot at night.. She calls me all night. I will take her to the doctor.

God Bless

sincerely someone who loves to help people and animals

I am a caregiver for the elderly and I want to just add to all the great advice….URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS!!!! I can’t even express how serious and what a nuisance they are. They are common and cause dementia type symptoms.

Yes, a UTI is so common in the elderly and yes, very often, causes major symptoms of dementia to the point of causing anger. It usually takes a couple of days after antibiotics are started for it to ease up and they regain their sanity! Takes love and lots of patience. Always keep their vital signs in check and rule out UTI’s. It’s a real problem! A lot of people don’t think about it because the patient doesn’t complain of any symptoms.

You made so much sense to me UTI ,,,loss of sleep makes it hard to figure out what is going on. I love my mother She calls all night because she gets up to go to the bathroom,,,,,

God Bless All

I’m going through this now. My grams wakes up every 30-40 minutes to use the restroom ONLY at night. Nothing comes out 90% of the time. During the day she can go 5 hours without wanting to potty. We took her in to check for a UTI but was ruled out. So we have an alarm attached to the bed, the other side attached to the back of her shirt with a clip and an safety pin for extra security because she would pull it off. I stay up till about 2300 then tell her I’m gonna go to bed and not to get out of bed till I come get her at 500. She wears a diaper just in case but she never uses it. Anyone has family who does this too? Any tips?

yes she gets anxious at night because she might have sundowners. they are afraid to be alone, have hallucinations, can’t tell night from day..


Put a night light in her room and a radio on low playing music. This works for my mum who does the same thing

Have your doctor set up a pshyc eval for her..there has to be some kind of help its. Torcher for her and her caregiver.I know caregivers are payed for these kind of jobs but its really tough when they are sleep deprived.and if one leaves and is replaced its going to be a revolving door.there are help find the right phsysician and phyc Dr..

My 95 year old mom turns 96 in seven days. As a child she had night terrors. She is very small and her adult weight has not varied since she was a young adult. 4’11” and 104 lbs. About three years ago she was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Her last emergency run to a hospital in late Feb of this year gave her a diagnosis of end stage congestive heart disease. We made a follow up appointment with the pulmonary specialist which had been called in as a consultant. He suggested in home hospice care and looked me right in the eye and said this woman more than qualifes. So in home hospice was started. She no longer wanted to dress to go to a doctor as it was so exhausting. She has a history of not sleeping well and doesn’t like being alone and has compulsive obsessive personality disorder. I kept her in my home for 5 years. I also have health issues, heart attack, severe sleep apnea, arthritis and artificial knees. In early Sept. she fell and didn’t tell me but I noticed the deep scratch on the underside of her forearm. Within 3 weeks she had a very bad fall in her bathroom during the early morning hours. She looked as if she had gone 30 rounds with Joe Louis. She landed with her head, shoulders right smack in the middle between the door sides on a stone floor. She was bleeding from her nose and a cut on the left outer eyebrow ridge. I had to step over her on the bloody floor taking a chance of slipping myself with my artificial knees in order to get into a position to get her up. The hospice people were called and it was a five hour ordeal. It was apparent that I could no longer keep her safely in my home. THANK YOU GOD FOR THE DOCTOR WHO SUGGESTED IN HOME HOSPICE CARE. The hospice people we used told us because she had a terminal diagnosis that Mom would qualify for a HIC placement. These facilities are regular home residences that can only take two patients. They are a step up from assisted living but a step below skilled nursing home. Medicare continues to pay for all services and meds dictated by her terminal diagnosis but does not cover anything else. Upshot is her insurance has to pay for her thyroid meds, her AREDS supplement and eye drops. SHE IS VERY SEVERELY HEARING IMPAIRED AND HAS SEVERE MACULAR DEGENERATION. I had her placed in a HIC facility by mid Sept. but from the time of the fall she developed a rapid onset dementia and really severe sundowners. So far nothing has worked for more than one or two nights before she goes back to square one. She is very weak but has excellent care. I pray nightly for God to give her peace. My point to all of you is that if you have a diagnosis of long term chronic life threatening disease or terminal disease check out the availability of HIC facilities in your area and see about a doctor’s referral for in home hospice care or HIC placement. It is cheaper than a nursing home. And for all of us who have loved ones whose quality of life has fled, it can be a God send. Since this is medicare paid for I think HIC facilities while not well known should be available in all states albeit maybe not close to where you live. I am fortunate that ours is only 20 minutes away. Our case nurse has forty plus years experience in home hospice care and she and the geriatric nurse practitioner have both ruled out the use of hadol as being unsuitable and dangerous for the elderly. At this stage of the game it is all about providing comfort and support not prolonging life. God Bless all caretakers for ours is a special calling!

Hi I am so tired. my grandma is 77 years old and does not sleep. She can not walk and maybe that’s a good thing because it would be worse. so right now she has sundowners I know that it is getting worse I do 4 night my aunt does 2 and my uncle does 1 plus i am her caretaker. She does not sleep I am at my end

i have an 81 year old father and we have a full time live in caregiver and also hospice help. my dad has dementia and severe sundowners, the only upside is that he is bed ridden so he can not walk away or wander off. many of the stories thtat i have read i also experience. i have found that natural herbals help some as wellas the melatonin, i try to stay away from the prescribed halucinagetic drugs as they have always had very bad side affects on my dad, i feel that we have beenthrough the ringer with agencies, cnas and doctors all of whom have no real solutions . so what ever you can find that works for you is the best choice though i would not reccommend many prescription drugs – try the herbals . its a difficult situation for caregivers, the paitent and loved ones – it sucks.

Iam the daughter of a Korean vet and this last week we have gone from 0 to dementia in 60 hrs. and now add sundowners. just had 6 days at the VA trying to explain it wasn’t like when I dropped him off. In the morning he up and hates everything , not the right cereal , thinks Iam selling (dope) just so out of touch then after I keep from pulling my hair out, he turns back into my dad at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Had a Power of Atty written up but learned today it does not apply to va fed benefits, they of course have there own, who knew. Iam trying to understand so much and I am so tired but he can’t go to a home yet. Bless you all

With the rapid change, you may want to have them check his blood ammonia levels. My dad had the same issue–rapid onset of belligerence, quickly progressing into unresponsiveness. I was getting all the ‘tough decisions’ speeches, and my dad lay wasting away in a hospital bed. Thank GOD I’d spent the last couple hours since my arrival at the emergency room googling his symptoms; it looked like hepatic encephalopathy.

I asked if they’d checked his blood ammonia: ‘NO’. Bingo, it was off the charts. Then they gave more speeches, started fights about DNR-or-not among my sister and brother and I, and brandished more papers for us to sign. I asked (this is OVER TWO HOURS LATER, mind you) if they’d started giving him Constulose yet (an indigestible-sugar laxative that absorbs the ammonia and makes you poop it out).

NO. NO, they had NOT yet given him the lactulose!!!!! Something SO VERY SIMPLE!!! WHAT?! I was irate! I tossed the stupid papers on the table and DEMANDED that they start it IMMEDIATELY!

Well, the vultures sheepishly scooted out of the room and gave the order…and my dad (unresponsive, basically comatose at the time) was trying to pull out his oxygen cannula by first thing the next morning!

During that day he started talking to us, and by the next am, he was up out of bed and sitting in a chair!

And all the hospital folk would have done was try to get us to sign off on his life!

Sorry to say, but you ABSOLUTELY have to do your own legwork…thank God for Google. And keep in mind, hospitals have very little incentive to keep and care for unprofitable Medicare patients long-term. SAD BUT TRUE–I DARE ANYONE TO DENY IT.

And stay firm–the hospital vultures had my siblings convinced–they all circled me, insisting I was being irrational and had unrealistic expectations. They were all speechless when he made a full recovery in less than a week. The doctor who’d been my harshest critic wouldn’t even come in the room.

Just sayin’…

I know this was posted so long ago, but I just want to say, I had an almost identical experience with a different diagnosis when my dad was hospitalized. He passed away two years ago. I respect the fight you put up.

What do you mean it doesn’t apply to VA , the power of attorney. .I have power of attorney of my husband and he’s a veteran.. please explain so I’ll No

Help my Dad is 90 and has just been moved to a residential home where he is up all night and terrorizes everyone in the house. We have tried Seraquel and that does not work. He is jumping out of his hospital bed and falling even with the rails up. He goes to the bathroom on the floor instead of the in the portable provide in his room. Is there a sleeping pill out there that can regulate his sleeping behaviors?

I take care of mt 91 year old father. Iv’e had him for 9 years now. I work a full time job, take care of my 9 year old and everything else that comes along with your every day things. It is very had to deal with these things my dad has been sick with his mind the whole time he’s been with us. All I can say is god bless all of us, and one day we will all be rewarded.

In a weird way I’m so happy to have found this site. I’m taking care of my Grandmother and had no idea how hard it was gong to be. Today she started talking in incomplete sentences so I took her to emergency in case it was a stroke and after a battery of test the doctor and pharmasist at the hospital said to take her off of the melantonin. Melantonin might cause an adverse effect with the parkinsons medication she started last week that can affect the brain.
I was amazed because the pharmasist that dispensed the parkinsons medication last week told me, Melantonin would not interfer with this particular parkinsons medication. The good news is since she has lived with me she is off all medications except parkinsons meds.

Now the doctors have her on tylenol for a sore arm from when she fell down three times in two days from a new pair of walking shoes. I need help getting her to sleep a night and if anyone has a herb they can recommend I’m willing to try.
Thank you and sorry for going on and on.

Hi, I’m giving my 91 year old Dad Valerian root and melatonin together. Also spraying his bed with lavender and using herbal lotion on his body which has lavender in it. The doctor prescribed 1mg. Of lunexa which didn’t work. The valerian root is helping a lot more . I’m also going to pick up chamomile tea I heard that helps as well. Good luck.

I’m on my second round of being a caretaker of an advanced Alzheimer’s patient. My father has passed on and I am now taking care of his sister, my aunt, who is eighty six. My advice, through experience, give them food when they want it and pick your battles. It is easier to agree than to argue. If you have to tell them they need to go to bed because we have to get up for church in the morning, do it. Every day could be Sunday here. There are times where they have had extreme clarity and times they have no clue who I was. My aunt always wants to go “home”, thousands of miles from my house where she now lives. We have used the term vacation as the reason she is here many times. As well as Alzheimer’s, she is basically a walking, or should I say shuffling, miracle as MRI’s of her spine show that her back is pretty well burnt toast. She is in pain, but yet when I take her to the doctor she states she is not. I have used video to show the doctor that what I am saying about her pain is true. On video she will go from a pain level of 10 to zero in a matter of minutes, but she is in pain. The video was the only way to convince the doctor, besides demanding and MRI. We have “baby” alarms on the doors and when she figured out how to knock the batteries out of them we put on the “baby” door knob covers – these have worked. We take the knobs off the stove at night to keep her from blowing us up as well, and the sliding glass door has a pair of vice grips along the track at the top to keep her in. Double keyed dead bolts where a key is needed to open from the inside and out will also keep a loved one indoors during the night. My opinion, and my opinion only, is that it is my job to take care of her, I refuse to fight and try to find humor in the repetition or demands – it is pretty easy to redirect someone in her condition to change the subject, and it often works. The fact is… she is dying a slow death and I want to make her as comfortable as possible. If the house is Auntie proofed, she can’t hurt herself or get out in the middle of the night and I can get my sleep too. I would much rather have her here with me than in a home. Most homes I have visited I wouldn’t let my dog live in. God bless you all for all you do, you are earning you wings. Good luck.

Mary thank you for your wise words. I will now tell my Mom we’re on holiday! Mom doesn’t sleep. I’ve recently got respite for 3 nights per week here at home, & for one day. I’m still tired, I’ve done this for 10 years. Mom hasn’t slept well for over 2 years. I know some Carers go through worse. So sad. Your witty, wise words also made me smile, thank you. I’ve got pillows along the skirting boards,where Mom has fallen in the past, so that she won’t hurt herself as much. As “Mom proofed” as I can be. Off to polish my wings. Thank you.

Thank you for your comments. You are on point with what my sister and her husband are going through with my mother. Its been a while since you posted this message, however, everything you have indicated is almost identical to what is happening to mom. God Bless.

My Dad will not get up in the morning-lately. 88 yrs old with dementia – goes to bed at 9:30 and my Mom gets so frustrated and angry with him. He just lays there. He is not sick, he just has returned home after re-hab after a bout with Dingy fever as a result of a mosquito bite. they would not release him till he demonstrated he could get up and shave and shower in the morning before taking a walk. He was fine but since he has been home he just stays in bed all day if he could. We have tried everything, spray him with water, guilt trips, nothing works he just does not care —

This site is very helpful. My husband and I are caring for his 89 year old mother who developed Sundowners syndrome in the last month. We only get a few hours of sleep everynight. We are very tired and at wits end. We are giving her Haldol and Lorazopan. I will mention to him the Taadone with the Morphine. Hopefully that will work better since the other 2 seem to make the situation worse, not better.

I pray for peace for my mother-in-law. We have been caring for her for 3 years now and want to make sure she is loved and not afraid. She was in labor camps during WWII and was taken from her family by the Nazis when she was 13. We worry many of her night terrors are related to what may have occurred during that period of her life. She never discussed the labor camps but I imagine she was terrified.

Good luck to all and God Bless.

My mom is 63 years old.She is diabeand taking medicine. She do lot of walking n yoga exercise.
But she can’t sleep at all during day or night.Tried over counter sleep pills but nothing is working. She gets completely exhausted please help


Hello My dad is 93 years old And is bed ridden He in a personal care home With a nerogiical disease called CiDP He cant walk He has been having visual hallucinatios For the past six months His vision he almost blind . Hearing not to good Has Congestive Heart Failure He is in a personal care home And is under hospice care I think they have him on Haldol now The doctors cant figure why he hallucinating He not sleeping much at night Sundown Sydrome Will Haldol help that Reading all the other post Are very helpful .Some seems like what my dad is going through I know lot of this age related health issues. But what is sad my dad mind was sharp And seeing him going through this is sad And don’t know how much time we have But i feel like what other said about hospice I beleive been under hospice he getting the best care Thank you Carolyn

My instance appears to be different than all others I’ve read above. My 88 year old mother does not sleep. Not during the night. Nor during the day. Not EVER. My wife and I care for her in our home as she has difficulty walking and is completely incontinent, the bedding and her clothes having to be changed at least 6 times each day. Thinking back to when I lived with her during my first 18 years, I can’t remember a time when I ever saw her sleep, nap, or even close her eyes, sitting or lying down, even when she was a young woman, I have never seen her sleep nor even refer to “going to bed”, so this is not a case of an onset of insomnia with age, for her, it’s a condition she’s always had. When younger, she suffered from migraine headaches and bouts of paralysis in one eye, sometimes lasting up to 9 months, so it’s possible there’s a direct correlation to that and her total insomnia. Of interest, she worked for a doctor as an RN for almost 50 years and was able to fully function, day and night with above average mental capacity (intelligence), without any signs of fatigue or physical impairment due to complete sleeplessness.

Good evening. I am in desperate need to know how to help my mother. She’s been in and out of the hospital for a month now, went to a lot of tests BUT ALL ARE GOOD. However, she is always complaining that she is having a hard time sleeping. Her doctor prescribed a sleeping pill but she will only have an hour of straight sleep. She is very week and her doctor is also puzzled of her condition. Hope you can assist me because I am really worried. Thank you.


When my mother was in her late eighties, she was unable to sleep more than a few hours a night. Needless to say, this took a very hard toll on her, and her health started to decline rapidly. She thought she was about to die.

With some research and knowing our family history, I found a lot of information that points to depression as the cause of insomnia, and in her case, hypochondria in the elderly. I asked her primary care doc to prescribe Lexapro an SSRI, and a small amount of benzo (Klonapin) before bed.

Within a month, she made a remarkable recovery, and is now 96 years old.

Hope this helps!

Help! i dont know what has been happening to my grandma lately. we would wake her up but she won’t until like after an hour or more, sometimes we already think she is dead. please help or gs this also sundowners

Help My husband has early onset alzheimers for 7 yrs, the last year he will get up every hour to two all night long, wants to go to the bathroom, does about half the time. He has had a full physical, ca hold his bladder more than 6 hours every day, I have eliminated nighttime liquids, have a mat when he gets out of bed, I can’t sleep (I have restless leg and can’t take anything to help myself as I have to get up with him each time). If I don’t get up he urinates all over the bed or floor, despite his depends. Hospice comes 2 times per week and their Dr has tried trazadone (he got comatose for days after), doxepin, he got psychotic, Haldol, he got the shakes and still didn’t sleep, Klonipin, atavan, zanax, not effective on the waking, he also can get agitated and disoriented, now Seroquel, multiple things to regulate his bladder. I have no family support and can’t afford nursing care. Has anyone found something for this sundowners sleep problem as I am totally fatigued,

My 86yr old Mom-in-law doesn’t sleep for days. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 12 yrs or more ago (we the family think it’s at this point severe dementia never Alzheimer’s). She will wake up at 6am awake all day, then night, then all day again then all night then all day, sleep one night then start all over again. I am fried mentally,physically , emotionally. Trazodone doestnt work for her and on seroquel. Dr had her on Xanax and took her off when put on Trazodone. Neither Ned’s works alone. During her waking time she goes from child like to devil, even her voice changes, and its bake and forth. My whole family Husband, teen Daughter, Son when home on leave, and even my 2 dogs are nervous. My house seems to be falling apart, literally. Less housework gets done, I don’t know what to do. PS None of her other children are willing to help!

It doesn’t look like there are any current posts. so I don’t know if anyone pays attention or not, but I just wanted to thank everyone. I don’t even know why it has helped me to read these, I just feel less angry for some reason. Among the many emotions I have, I just feel betrayed by all of this. I have had a hard life, not that I am complaining, but things just get worse by the second. My life situation is bad to begin with, but all of this is too much. On top of everything my husband was just diagnosed with skin cancer. My husband has been a source of my pain for so many years, we have been married 40 years and when I finally decided to let him stand on his own two feet and stop handling everything in our marriage, he slowly moved into dementia. Now the dementia is moving at a much faster rate and then the Sundowners skyrockets after the cancer surgery. He has had to be operated on in 5 different areas, so the surgery issue has never had a chance to settle. My one question is, did the doctor diagnose this for you or did you just have to figure it out on your own. I discovered this issue through google, even after many conversations with doctors, about his behavior, they did not even once ever mention that this was a confirmed issue, I didn’t even no it had a name. I have many other questions but I will save them for now. Any information will be greatly appreciated.

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You’re incredible! Thanks!

I have a father until now his sleep disorder remains mystery. HE SUUDENLY WAKES AT NIGHT OR EVEN NOON TIME HE DONT KNOW WHY HE SUDDENLY WAKE UP,IT HAPPENS ALMOST EVERY DAY.. Please advise. Thanks.


So much good information here! Let me share what happened to my mother, a cautionary tale:

My mom is 92 and has hyperthyroidism (yes, hyPER, not hypo), for which she takes methimazole, to suppress her thyroid’s excess hormone production.. It is normally prescribed by her endocrinologist, but when she needed it during his vacation, we asked her primary care doctor if he would prescribe it for us, and he did.

About that same time, she had a minor day surgery, and thereafter, began going downhill fast. She grew very weak, slept far too much, lost a lot of mental acuity, became extremely sensitive to pain, and even the expectation of pain. She was awake only a few hours a day, and those hours were sent crying kn psin… she began saying she would rather be dead. We thought it must be related to the surgery somehow, but no problems were found. She was examined very thoroughly, repeatedly, by various specialties, and was found perfectly healthy. They told me she was very old, she was “running down,” etc. when I went in tears to her primary care doctor to brainstorm what we could do for her, he said, “The best thing you can do for her now is put her on Do Not Resuscitate.” I was devastated.

One day Mom was sleeping in the car as I drove her home from an appointment, and I wanted to ask if she’d like to stop for ice cream, so I tried to wake her — and couldn’t. I U-turned and took her to the ER, where they admitted her. They still found nothing wrong, but eight days of fluids and intense nutrition helped a little bit. She could walk with assistance, but she was still mentally absent, physically helpless, and rarely awake.

By chance, the day she was released from the hospital was her next scheduled appointment with the endocrinologist, whom she had not seen in four months. He took one look at her and panicked, firing off questions and checking all the records he could find, even having some faxed over from the hospital.

Studying Mom’s most recent bloodwork, he noticed something odd, and pursued that lead through all the various records… and finally, he said, “Why is she getting 10mg of Methimazole? Didn’t I give her 5mg?”

And that’s how we found out that her primary care doctor had doubled her methimazole. The overdose ran for four months, and the drug built up in her system to over four times what it should have been, so profoundly suppressing her thyroid that her body was barely functioning. If the endocrinologist hadn’t figured it out, we would have lost her within months, maybe weeks.

The moral of the story is to KNOW not only the medicines, but also the dosages, and to check every bottle for accuracy. Ask to go over test results WITH the doctor, and have him explain any rsults that are out of thr norm. Question everything, be a nuisance if you must — don’t let a loved one possibly die because you want to be polite!

But there’s more: when we went back to the primary care doctor and told him he’d overdosed her, he said it wss NOT AN ERROR. He said he did it because she had been complaining of fatigue, so he wanted to “rev her up.” I reminded him that methimazole SUPPRESSES the thyroid, and he said, “No, it will give her energy.” I said it again, and then the light dawned on him.. he tried to cover by saying, “Well, that’s not so bad. It’ll leave her system in a couple of weeks.”

So he had (a) misremembered what methimazole DOES, and (b) doubled Mom’s dose of it without TELLING us.

We changed doctors.

And it took MONTHS before Mom felt reasonably like herself again, and at her advanced age, that’s too much time to spend feeling so sick so needlessly.

So the second moral of the story is, don’t take the authority of medical personnel TOO seriously. Ask them to explain everything they’re doing and why — don’t be intimidated!

Thank you for sharing. Such an important aspect of their care. How could it be overlooked! Well it happens all the time.. Please be diligent!

my mother is 63 years old and she has trouble falling asleep and when she does fall asleep she only sleeps for about two or three maybe more hours then most people she takes 24 melatonin and she sometimes sleeps but it does not effect her at all and she used to take ambien but now she wants back on it because it makes her sleep my stepdad says he does not want her on it because she takes too much and that was when she was taking her crazy pills she does not take them anymore

24 melatonin sounds should be given at night time not 24 hrs a day.please clarify.
Ambien has bad side effects.
I csre for a 96 yr old. At night he gets 10mg melatonin. The Dr also prescribed 50 mg Trazadone. He has Alzheimer’s and doesnt sleep thru the night. But he is more calm.
A 2 am cup of chamomile tea is not uncommon.
Best wishes always

I have been my 89 year old husbands full time caregiver for two years. I am an 82 year old cancer survivor. After four psychiatrists, doctors and hospital stay, there was never a conclusive diagnosis. They said he was suffering from auditory and psychotic delusions.
I have just finished reading the book “Sundowner’s Syndrome-A Caregiver’s Guide” and it is ALL in there. I felt the book was a message from heaven, the only true diagnosis. I feel so much better knowing we are not alone on this sad journey. My sincere gratitude for this site and all those who have shared their heart-breaking stories. Remember the best and forget all the rest

I don’t know how much longer I can keep my mother at my home. She drives me nuts all night. She calls about every forty-five minutes for simple things like – “My room is hot”; “My room is cold”; “Is anyone there?” “I’m hungry”. It just goes on and on. As soon as I feel like I am getting closer to sleep, she is waking me up again with her calls. There is nowhere I can go in my house where I cannot hear her.

I am at my wit’s end. I have a career; and I hope to eventually retire. Not if I can’t go to work, I won’t! My employers have been very understanding, allowing me to miss work (Leave Without Pay) on those days when I didn’t sleep.

This is nuts! There has to be some real solution to caregiver stress. I’m trying to keep her at home but tonight I just feel defeated. I just told myself. “I cannot live with That Woman.” And I can’t! Living with her is wrecking my sanity. I am going to be looking for a nursing home.

My Dad is almost 80. Since my son died 3 months ago (which he was close to) he’s been waking up feeling as though he’s dying. He called an mbulance the first time, and they couldn’t find anything wrong. He’s tested his blood pressure after it wakes him and it’s normal. It’s happening slightly less frequently, but still once a week, but I don’t know how I could help him. The doctor doesn’t seem worried about it but its horrifying for him.

My 80 yr old mother is obsessed with sleeping at night. I can go in there and she is snoring up a storm. According to her, she gets zero sleep. Mom’s dreams alot, and i wonder if since her dreams are so real, she thinks she gets zero sleep. It has turned into an obsession, and she takes enuff sleeping aides to knock out a giant. I feel bad because i am getting irritated that sleep is all she talks aboutz she claims ahe does not nap, but again, if i go into her room, she is sawing logs. Why is she obsessed about sleeping, and bowel movements. I am so tired if conversations about sleeping i could scream. Help, what do i do, is this normal with the elderly? Why soooo focused on sleep. I am embarrassed at the amount if sleeping aides she takes. She is stubborn, and all conversations now r. I didnt sleep. I could scream.

My 87 year old mom is sleeping only 2 hours at a time at night.
a typical night looks like this
7pm put to bed
8:30pm wakes up and has to be put the chair
sits for about 1 hour to 2
945pm – she requests to be put back in back
11pm wakes up and asks to be taken out of bed or sometimes we find her trying to do it and she is a VERY HIGH fall risk so we have a bed alarm
this 2 hour in bed and 2 hour our of bed cycles continues until 6:30 in the morning.

I am not sure what is causing this.

Has been happening since early March

Any tips or suggestions would be helpful

Beginning this week it is becoming increasing worse.. she is in bed 2 hours and wake up 2 hours later. What I call the on 2 and off 2 cycle.

I have to sleep on the floor in her room every night to prevent falls.

She has fallen over 8 times

I am going to tell my story in order to tell what my caregiver goes through. I am only 60 and have a very different sleep disorder. Without any notice or any changes in anything I will go to sleep one night and not wake up for 1 day to as many as 6 days. After 6 long years doctors have not been able to figure what it might be or causes these episodes. My figures show that I have slept (lost)about 6 months of my life. My wife of 40 yrs is my caregiver ( I am also a quadriplegic). She is able to wake me enough to give meds and liquids and then I am back out. She is a full time Medical Transcriptionist and works at home, Thank GOD. She takes care of me all day and at the end of her work day takes care of feeding the cows, cats and dog and does everything else that needs to be done around the outside of the house while I am asleep. She also cooks supper and takes it to my 94 yr old daddy and keeps an eye on him. You got give it to the care givers “There aint nobody like them. They are God’s gift to us so we gotta take care them. May God truly bless each of you and the person you care for.

I just woke up from a 2 day sleep and could not sleep last night. I got up at 3am after laying in bed awake for 4 hours.

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