Which Sleep Movement Disorders Are Common in Seniors?

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Elderly people need plenty of sleep so they can face each day with renewed energy and stay focused on their overall health. However, a sleep movement disorder can easily cause a disruption in a senior’s rest. Though sleep movement disorders affect adults of all ages, they can be especially problematic for older adults. Here are a few of the most common sleep movement disorders elderly people experience. 


Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Periodic limb movement disorder, also referred to as PLMD, affects approximately 40 percent of seniors to some extent. PLMD causes seniors to move or jerk their legs several times per minute during the night, which can make it difficult to maintain deep sleep, and it can even affect a sleeping partner’s ability to rest. The condition is often a secondary result of other health problems, including anemia, diabetes, and poor kidney function, and it can also be a side effect of certain medications. 

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted at-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help.


Restless Legs Syndrome

Approximately 15 percent of adults over the age of 80 develop restless legs syndrome, also known as RLS. This syndrome, which can be caused by many of the same factors and conditions that lead to PLMD, causes crawling, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensations in the extremities that are often more severe at night. Although the exact cause of RLS isn’t known, the condition has been linked to various nerve conditions, iron-deficiency anemia, and kidney failure. 

When you understand the causes of your loved one’s sleep issues, you can be better equipped to help him or her get high-quality rest. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elder care. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.


Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder

Rapid eye movement, or REM, characterizes the period of sleep when people most often dream. During this stage of sleep, the eyes move back and forth beneath the eyelids, but the brain keeps the muscles immobilized. In severe cases of REM sleep behavior disorder, the muscles don’t stay immobile, allowing a person to act out his or her dreams, sometimes violently moving and thrashing about, which poses a risk of serious injury. Although the condition can affect people of any age, it’s slightly more common among men over age 50. 


Managing Sleep Movement Disorders

Seniors with RLS or PLMD should consult their doctors to rule out anemia or other health conditions that might be causing the symptoms. In many cases, the symptoms resolve once the underlying condition is treated. Leg massages and hot baths may alleviate mild symptoms of RLS. 

Some seniors experience relief when taking some of the same medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, and medications such as melatonin and clonazepam may help seniors with REM sleep behavior disorder. Before your loved one takes any medication, make sure his or her doctor approves it. In some instances, it may be necessary to implement safety measures, including moving furniture out of the way, securing windows and external doors, and placing barriers on the sides of the bed.

Sleep disorders can cause serious health issues for seniors if they’re left untreated. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Milwaukee, live-in care is available around the clock if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Assisting Hands Home Care, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more. To hire a compassionate, dedicated caregiver, call us today.