Why do old people sleep so much?

Picture a group of older people in a Care Home. Like me, have you got an image in your head of a dozen people all sat around a loud television and 11 of them are fast asleep?

It seems that the older you get, the more naps you might need.

My mum could have 4 or 5 little sleeps each day and yet be up with the sunrise.

To see if this is just natural progression or if it is an indication that something might not be as it should, I decided to research why old people sleep so much.

There are a few reasons that can cause seniors to sleep more:

Tiredness – Yes, I know, that sounds ridiculous but it is a fact. If you or your elderly person finds that their sleep pattern has changed, investigate.

If they are not sleeping well during the night, then obviously they will catnap during the day.

Maybe they walked unusually far or just had an exerting day with lots of family visiting. If it happens occasionally, it is probably not worth worrying about and to be expected. Leave them snooze, they have earned it!

If you begin to see a pattern or it becomes unusually regular and excessive, then it is worth giving the GP a call, just to check everything is ok.

Medication – Much of the medication that older people have to take often comes with the side effect ‘may cause drowsiness’.

If it is possible to take the drowsy-making tablet in the evening instead of morning, then this may help, but please, don’t change any routine before consulting with your GP.

Certain medication has to be taken at a particular time of the day.

Boredom – Obvious really, this happens to people of all ages who sit and do nothing for a while. Nothing easier than to close your eyes for 40 winks.

That may be all well and good in a younger and more active body, but when you sadly begin to lose mobility and are forced to sit for most of the day, it may cause problems.

Someone who has slept most of the day away will have difficulty sleeping at night.

This can be a frightening time for them as it is dark and quiet, particularly if they live alone or care givers are out of earshot.

Ways to keep an elderly person busy

If your older person is up for a bit of adventure then Day Centres are ideal.

They are oftenpen most weekdays and some offer return transport too.

They are fab places to go to make and learn new things, play games and more importantly, meet new people and socialise.

You will even get your lunch thrown in too.

Classes are a great idea, available during the day or at night school.

A great way to beat the boredom and get the grey matter working.

What if you’re less mobile, even housebound?

This is my area of expertise!!

If you have read http://About Me , you will know that I had to keep my, almost 80 year old, mum busy for almost 4 years!

Here are some of the tricks of the trade that we used..

  • Television

Mum had little attention span, even for her favourite programmes. We found a secret tip……………. subtitles! As she had been an avid reader for all of her life,  she was much more engrossed , she didn’t lose her place, and the pages were automatically turned.

  • Music 

Mum’s face would illuminate when Johnny Mathis or Tom Jones came on the CD player. Then we would all have a singalong! Better still was her sense of wonderment when we taught her to shout “Alexa, play some Nat King Cole”!

  • Crosswords 

When newspaper print became too small for her to manage, we sourced some large print puzzle books. They were still adult themed questions, just easier to read, and bigger boxes to fill.

  • Colouring

Colouring books for adults of all capabilities are available. Again, the pictures aren’t aimed at children and allow for all different levels of dexterity.

  • Jigsaw Puzzles

Easily mum’s favourite pastime. We’d see her eyelids droop and grab one of her many jigsaws. She would soon liven up! We bought a folding mat too, ideal for her table, and when she had done enough it could be closed shut and stored at the side of her chair.

Did you know that you can buy jigsaws with as few as 100 large-size pieces that are not childish pictures? Scenery and animals are perfect for older people who may have visual problems, limited hand use, or like my mum, dementia.

  • Knitting/Crocheting

If following patterns has become too much, knitting is still a lovely hobby. We bought mum some over-sized needles and she would spend hours making scarves and randomly shaped hats for her granddaughter’s dolls and bears.

  • Photographs

Getting the albums out and taking a trip down memory lane is a fabulous way of getting everyone involved. It is a good workout for your older person’s memory too.

  • Talking

Anything that can combat loneliness and keep the brain ticking over is good. Phone calls are relatively inexpensive these days so keeping in touch is easier.

Inviting friends and relatives for coffee mornings will really perk the elderly up.

and finally…

  • Inclusion

My mum couldn’t stand to feel useless, so, on days when she felt up to it, I encouraged her to wash the teacups up, or fold some washing.

Days when she wasn’t, she would pod the peas or butter the bread while sitting in her chair. Anything that kept her interested and awake.

So, there it is,

I hope you have found this interesting. Please, feel free to leave me anymore ideas you might have.

One more thing; there are usually enough young ‘uns around to teach the oldies the basics of a computer. Become a silver-surfer and you never know, you may get reconnected with old friends or even old flames!