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Living the Praxis for Care 

Sleep. It's a Beautiful Thing: Importance of Rest in Dementia Care-giving

Looking back at the early part of our journey, I remember those sleepless nights that Mom would have once, maybe twice per month. When Mom didn't sleep, I didn't sleep, which made for some really long, really challenging days.

Like many people in the early stages of a dementia illness, Mom was very well aware that something was going wrong with her brain, and she'd get frustrated on those days after having had a sleepless night. She was a lot crankier and a lot less functional, and she was very well aware of how dysfunctional she was being. Yet she couldn't figure out a way to stop it.

If the weather was cooperative, I would take Mom out to a park or to the lakefront just to try to burn off some of that excess energy. But it was a struggle for me also. I worried about how alert I was and whether or not I would be able to safely navigate driving in our traffic. I also worried about whether or not I really had the energy to stay with her to help her burn off all her excess energy.

Eventually, I found a sleep aid that worked, and the sleepless nights decreased and then ceased. Getting a good night's sleep isn't a luxury for family care-givers; it's a necessity. Sleep deprivation can contribute to both household and traffic accidents.

Having so much to do as a family care-giver, being injured puts both yourself and your loved one at risk. I have a good friend who suffered third-degree burns on her leg and foot while making chamomile tea for her mom because she was sleep-deprived.

If sleeplessness is a part of your care journey, it's important for you to get the support you need. You need your sleep to continue caring for your loved one and yourself.

Mom now sleeps peacefully through the night, and I can sleep peacefully through the night. That's a beautiful thing for both of us. Recently, she's been sleeping so well that I've been able to reduce the amount of sleep aid that I give her, so she wakes up a little less sleepy in the morning.

My encouragement for you this week is to consciously wind down before you go to sleep so you can have a really restful night's sleep.

Be well until next time.

-Dr. Sheri

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Dr. Sheri L. Yarbrough is an author, caregiver, and founder of Praxis Senior Care-Giving Solutions, a consulting business that works with organizations to provide working family care-givers with practical and easily implemented strategies to help them manage their care journey.

View Dr. Yarbrough's weekly blog on all things caregiving from a caregiver's perspective.

Listen to Dr. Yarbrough's Podcast: Straight Talk for Giving-Care.


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