How do I look after the elderly at night?
There are few things more important than a good night’s sleep.
But a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by for your elderly loved one, and that’s why you’ll want to do all you can to make it easier for them. You might:
Improve their day-to-day lifestyle
Establish a night-time routine
Create a nicer space to sleep in
Make their home a safer place to be at night
You could also introduce them to live-in care – a form of elderly night care where they receive one-on-one support in the comfort of their own home. And with Elder, you can have someone on their doorstep in as little as 24 hours.
Find an overnight carer
Sleepless nights aren’t just hard on your loved one. They can be hard on you, too.
But night care for the elderly can bring both of you some relief. You’ll never need to drag yourself out of bed when you have work in the morning – there’s a carer to do everything for you. They’re on hand all night to help your loved one to the loo when they need it, or check in on them when they’re in discomfort.
And if you choose live-in care, you’ll get more than just overnight care for the elderly. Live-in carers spilt their time to give support at night or throughout the day – whether that’s to administer medication or prepare meals. In short, a live-in carer not only nips night-time disruptions in the bud, they promote the sort of daytime habits that lead to a good night’s sleep.
Improve their daytime habits
The healthier a lifestyle your loved one leads, the better the quality of sleep they’ll have.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention to their daytime routine. Make sure they’re getting out and about, even if that’s just a walk round the park. The exercise and fresh air will do them good. And find ways to keep their mind ticking over, from crosswords to catching up with friends. Just try to discourage them from napping: dozing throughout the day can throw off sleeping patterns later on.
A balanced diet is important, too, so create meal plans full of iron and vitamins. And remember that too much caffeine and alcohol can make elderly night care more difficult. If your loved one has a taste for either of them, it might be worth recommending they avoid them in the evening – or at least cut down on them a bit.
Establish a night-time routine
When it comes to caring for the elderly at night, consistency is key.
Agree a time with your loved one for them to go to bed, as well as a time for them to get up the next morning, and encourage them to stick to it. By regulating their body clock, they’ll be much more likely to have an uninterrupted snooze.
There may also be little things that help them nod off – a warm glass of milk just before bed, for example, or some reading time – and you might want to build these into the routine. Just try to avoid sleeping pills, if you can, as these could make your loved one feel groggy for the whole next day.
Rather than medication, consider phone apps designed to promote a better night’s sleep. Apps like Sleep Cycle and Pillow, which analyse sleeping patterns and wake you in the morning when your sleep is lightest. Or Pzizz and Calm, which use ambient noise to help those who struggle with insomnia.
Create a nicer place to sleep
Small changes to your loved one’s bedroom could make a big difference to the way they sleep.
It’s worth investing in a new mattress to give them the back support they need, as well as high-quality linen and pillows for a bit of extra comfort. You could introduce a nightlight so there’s no confusion when they wake up in the early hours, and diffusers to give the room a subtle and relaxing smell. You might want to leave a glass of water on a bedside table, too.
If your loved one tends to experience night-time incontinence, consider buying them incontinence underwear and bed protectors. This makes overnight care for the elderly easy: if there’s an accident during the night, they’ll always have a dry bed to get back into.
Elder gives me peace of mind
“I have been able to return to my normal life, totally relaxed that my mother is in capable hands with all her needs being more than catered for.”
Make their home safer
For anyone who cares for the elderly at night, the big worry is that they’ll have an accident.
But there are a few precautionary measures you can take to make the home a safer place to be. You could:
Add motion sensors to your landing lights so there’s no fumbling around in the dark for a switch
Remove rugs and furniture so there’s nothing for them to trip on or bump into
Lock the front door so they don’t get confused and go for a midnight wander
Install a safety gate at the top of the stairs so they don’t take a tumble
This way, even if your loved one does get up on their own, they’ll be safe and sound. And you? You can just sleep soundly.
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