When the blanket of darkness descends each night, the home environment becomes a hazard for vulnerable seniors. The pitch blackness of nighttime combined with the frail conditions of the elderly increases the likelihood of injury from sleeplessness, falls or wandering.
Fortunately, concerned loved ones can prepare the home environment, and especially the bedroom, to reduce the risk of preventable harm. Firstly, though, it is important to understand how the health changes that affect seniors contribute to the potential for nighttime disasters. Hiring a 24 hour home care or an overnight home care professional can also help.
A quality night’s rest is essential to maintain a senior’s well-being. Several factors affect how soundly a senior sleeps. Arthritic pain, for instance, can interrupt an elderly person’s sleep. Those suffering from congestive heart failure are unable to lie down flat.
Incontinence issues prompt seniors to awaken multiple times at night. Medications adversely affect sleep quality and quantity. Plus, seniors with dementia may become confused at night, without knowing their location with certainty. Seniors can be frightened in the dark, especially when living alone.
Evidently, seniors face a multitude of disturbances in relation to sleep. When deep sleep is repeatedly minimal, seniors are more susceptible to memory loss and dementia. On the other hand, the stage of deepest sleep, REM, promotes optimal brain health, the processing of emotions and memory.
Solutions to sleep problems include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation practices, sleep aids and changes in lifestyle habits. Relaxation techniques can be simple, such as knitting, reading or listening to calming music. Once habitual, the brain will start to recognize that sleep follows the activity.
Exercising during the day and eating healthily helps seniors experience restful sleep at night. While adequate daytime hydration is important, it is practical to avoid drinking liquids before bed to limit nighttime trips to the toilet. Beyond the bed, however, are additional nighttime issues for seniors….
The darkness conceals fall hazards, like throw rugs, power cords and pets, that may exist in the bedroom. Without ample lighting, seniors who wake up at night are unable to observe visual cues in their environment. Their physical safety is subsequently jeopardized.
To reduce the chances of injury from tripping and falling, remove clutter from the bedroom. Tape down power cords. Remove the rugs, even if that means the tile or wood finished floor will be slippery—rugs are a bigger risk for tripping. Or, add slip-resistant backing to the rugs.
The darkness encourages quality sleep, but it also makes it difficult to safely move about at night when necessary. Motion-activated lighting is the solution. Smart lights, too, are useful in lighting the way for seniors without them fumbling for the light switch.
Place lamps near the bed, so the senior can turn it on immediately upon waking. Line the hallway leading to the bathroom with automatic lights so the senior makes it safely to the bathroom. A bathroom featuring automatic lighting is helpful when a senior has to quickly use the toilet.
Elderly individuals can fall out of bed, making bed rails necessary. Seniors may use bed rails as support when shifting into a sitting position. If bed rails are inconvenient, add body-length pillows to the sides of the bed. When the environment is secure, seniors can still be subject to injury….
Wandering is common to seniors who have experienced a stroke or who suffer from dementia. Older people are just as prone to wandering at night as any other time of day. To secure the home at night, families can take practical steps to preserve the safety of their loved one.
New locks on the doors help prevent wandering seniors from opening them easily. Families can be alerted when a senior opens an outer door when a motion detector is installed. A less technical yet equally effective solution is to hang bells on the doors.
A costly but useful step is to install a fence around the home. If the senior wanders at night, he will unlikely get lost. Introducing the neighbors to the senior and his condition and asking them to notify the family when the individual wanders is also a protective measure.
Sometimes, a senior is just confused about which door leads to the bathroom and which one leads outside. Hang signs that identify the bathroom and the senior is less likely to wander outside. Alternately, place signs that read “Stop” or “Do not enter” to prevent wandering outdoors.
Seniors can also be monitored during the night to preserve their safety. Professional caregivers are instrumental when it comes to continuous supervision, especially at night. Caregivers who operate on a 24-hour basis are aware of the senior’s condition and stay alert during night shifts.
Professional caregivers also prepare the home environment so the elderly individual remains physically secure. Common practices that caregivers engage in include removing physical obstacles that could lead to falls and assisting seniors with vision loss as they move around at night.
Compassionate, knowledgeable caregivers can be found at Assisting Hands Home Care. Our reputable home care agency is staffed with a dedicated team of professional caregivers who are skilled in all aspects of senior care. Our comprehensive elder care services include overnight care.
Overnight caregivers help prepare the senior for bed, encouraging a quality night’s sleep. Examples of care services we provide include assistance with dressing, grooming, bathing, transferring and toileting. Caregivers may be hired to remain present in the same room as the senior or in one nearby.
Assisting Hands Home Care service providers are also trained in dementia care. With a combination of skill and understanding of the condition, our caregivers will gently direct wandering seniors back to their bed. Post-surgery patients also benefit from caregivers who tend to their non-medical needs daily.
Families and seniors who live in the communities surrounding Pinal and Maricopa Counties in Arizona are encouraged to consult the most trusted name in senior home care, Assisting Hands Home Care. Call us at (602) 535-5440 to schedule your free in-home consultation. Our caregivers are licensed, bonded and insured to give families and their loved ones full confidence in our senior care services.