Does Frequent Napping Mean My Parent May Have Alzheimer’s?
By Lindsey Fancy 9 am on
Napping now and then is perfectly normal for seniors, but there’s research suggesting excessive sleepiness could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. The Alzheimer Society of Canada also notes such patterns are typical during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Here’s what you need to know about this possible early warning sign if you’re caring for an older loved one.
Abnormal Protein Clumps May Be a Factor
To study the possible link between Alzheimer’s and excessive napping, researchers did a brain comparison. Specifically, they looked at wakefulness-promoting areas of the brain. They compared information about the brains of people with Alzheimer’s who had passed away to the brains of healthy individuals.Researchers discovered buildups of a protein called tau in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s—specifically in the areas of the brain responsible for sleep patterns. While this protein normally helps nerve cells in the brain transport nutrients, it no longer serves this purpose if it collapses and forms clusters, or tangles. When this happens, brain cells die. These “tau tangles” are also considered an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.Previous research has also shown a link between elevated tau protein levels and sleep disturbances in people with Alzheimer’s. This may be the case because of the way the entire wake-promoting network is affected by a lack of sufficient nutrient delivery when tau proteins collapse.If your loved one is excessively tired or sleepy during the day, he or she may need assistance with the tasks of everyday living. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type ofat-home care. Winnipegfamilies can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Poor Sleep Is Already Linked with Alzheimer’s
A 2009 Canadian study referenced in the journal Science Advances presents evidence of a link between poor sleep and developing dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s. Additional research also notes a connection between abnormal protein buildup and the lack of sufficient sleep that can contribute to excessive napping. Just why this connection exists isn’t yet fully understood. However, what appears to be certain is that there’s a link between a lack of high-quality sleep and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, which is why it could also be an early sign of this disease.If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, compassionate help is just a phone call away. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to address if their families opt for professional home care service. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Sleep Aids Can Be Counterproductive
Other studies suggest relying on sleep aid medications may do nothing to prevent abnormal protein clusters from forming in the brain. In fact, past research suggests the long-term use of over-the-counter sleep medications may actually boost the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
There Are Healthy Ways to Enhance Sleep Quality
There are medications that can minimize tau tangles in the brain, but nothing can be done to fully stop the progression of Alzheimer’s once a diagnosis has been made. What you can do instead as a family caregiver is help your loved one reduce excessive napping as much as possible. Do this by enhancing sleep quality with nonmedicinal methods, which could include: • Planning enjoyable activities during the day to discourage napping• Encouraging regular exercise to boost nighttime sleepiness• Creating a comfortable, quiet sleep environment• Encouraging your loved one to maintain a consistent sleep schedule (e.g., going to bed and getting up at the same times each day)• Promoting healthy eating• Making sure your parent gets sufficient light exposure during the dayAging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Winnipeg, MB, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (204) 489-6000 today.