Common Reasons for Daytime Sleepiness in Elderly People

Why Does My Elderly Loved One Sleep All Day?

The aging process can be hard on the body. It’s not easy, and it can result in excess fatigue. Not only that, but the elderly often experience a decline in the quality of their nighttime sleep, which results in them being tired during the day. Maybe they can’t quite get comfortable because of different aches and pains. They may have to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. For many seniors, this lack of sleep can be compensated by a good nap in the afternoon. But it is not normal for seniors to spend all day in bed or doze all day in the recliner in front of the TV instead of being involved with their daily living activities. 

If your elderly loved one seems to be sleeping a lot more than normal during the day, it’s important to try and find out why. A visit to the doctor is in order to find out what underlying health problems may be making them extra tired. Some common issues that cause seniors to sleep all day might include: 

1. Depression in the Elderly

Depression can cause anyone, young or old, to lose the desire to engage in activities they used to love. Depression is absolutely not a normal part of aging. It can also cause excessive fatigue. When an elderly loved one experiences depression, make sure they get the help they need. Depression can be triggered by any number of things: extreme boredom, loss of a sense of purpose, medication changes, the death of loved ones, inability to engage in activities they used to love, family difficulties, loneliness, and a host of other challenges. Depression is a medical condition that can be helped by medical attention, therapy, and support from family and friends. 

2. Medication Issues

Many elderly people find themselves managing a host of health conditions with a bunch of different medications, some of which may not interact well together, or that come with undesirable side effects, one of which may be excessive sleepiness. It is important to remain in contact with your loved one’s doctor and to note any changes in medications or any side effects when there are changes to medications. Know about the expected side effects that may come with any drug, and watch for any physical or behavioral changes that could be tied to the prescription or over-the-counter drugs your loved one is taking.The average senior takes between 4 and 5 separate medications. Ask about alternative medications, dosage changes, or the timing when your loved one takes the medication.


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3. Dementia

Science has identified at least 12 clinical types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease being the most commonly known. All forms cause sleep difficulties, particularly as the disease advances. Deterioration of the brain causes significant problems with sleep-wake cycles, causing them to feel tired during the day, but awake at night sometimes. These are not easy issues to solve. Family caregivers and home care staff can help seniors with dementia by creating a very regimented, strict sleep schedule at night (and naps during the day) while creating engaging, therapeutic activities for them to enjoy during the day. 

4. Other Possible Health Concerns

It’s always important to be observant of any changes in your senior loved one’s health and activity patterns as they can be a symptom of oncoming health issues. The advanced stages of some terminal illnesses, for example, can come with loved ones sleeping much of the day. Excessive sleepiness during the day does not always mean death is close, however. But if your loved one is sleeping a lot more than they should be, contact the doctor and find out what is going on. 

If your elderly loved one is sleeping all day, you will also need to make sure that they are still getting the personal hygiene, hydration, medications, and nutrition that they need. And they should not be in the same position for too long, or bed sores and other health problems can arise. 

If you are concerned about any health or behavioral changes in your elderly loved one, never hesitate to contact their doctor. At Home Personal Care has excellent skilled nursing staff, therapists and a home care team that can help you monitor and care for your senior loved one in these challenging times. Contact us today for support: (703) 330-2323
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