People experience various changes as they age, and among them is a change in the quality and duration of sleep. This is due to a number of factors — such as a slowing in melatonin production, a hormone that promotes sleep, and an aging “master clock,” which influences when a person feels sleepy or alert. Health conditions and side effects from medications can also cause sleep problems. In turn, these sleep problems can also result in high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. This is why it’s important that you find an assisted living facility that ensures your parent maintains good sleep hygiene.
Get a feel for the community’s culture
Assisted living facilities offer different programs and amenities. You should find a community that can support and engage your parent in their hobbies and interests. For instance, if your parent loves reading, having a library and a place where they can read in peace will be ideal. Or if they love knitting, seeing that there are other residents in the facility who share that same hobby will assure you that your parent will have company. Mental health and sleep problems are linked, so placing them in an institution that can help them manage their mental health by offering activities they love can help them sleep better as well.
Having an exercise program, even light ones like tai chi and yoga are also helpful for sleep. For one, exposure to natural light can keep the sleep-wake cycle in check. It helps manage mental health as well by releasing feel-good chemicals. And of course, exercise increases sleep drive.
Ask about the facility’s staff training
There are multiple employees in an assisted living facility, such as registered nursing professionals, orderlies, and administrators. To be assured that your parent is in capable hands, you can ask for the credentials of these professionals. Assisted living administrators are in charge of overseeing all operations of the facility. They will have undergone advanced health administration training in senior services and will be aware of the biological, psychological, and sociocultural aspects of aging. They also have present and future perspectives regarding assisted-living services. All these can help them run a facility that can help improve seniors' sleep.
For instance, orderlies assist residents with daily activities like dressing and bathing. They also help seniors get from one place to another if needed. An assisted living administrator should be able to hire good orderlies and train them well. Part of this training is about preventing pressure injuries from medical devices by ensuring they aren’t too tight. Especially with PAP therapy, this can reduce the number of times that your parent wakes up from the discomfort of wearing their device.
Check the accommodations
To make sure your parent maintains good sleep hygiene, you should check if the accommodations can support this. For instance, will your parent sleep better in the company of a roommate? Some care homes do offer shared rooms, which allow residents to enjoy more company. The advantage of having their own room also means they have time to perform bedtime activities like reading or listening to quiet music that can help them relax before sleeping.
Another thing you can consider is if rooms can be personalized to create the ideal environment for sleep. This includes having blinds to let in as little light as possible and having a white noise machine to help drown out other noises. There may be noises at night resulting from the institutional environment, such as the staff preparing for the next day, traffic from the outside, or people using the restroom. If your parent wakes easily, it may be best to request a room away from these noises.
What other advice would you give to someone moving their parent into assisted living? Let us know in the comments below.
Written exclusively for Circadiance by Aubrey Carlson.
Author’s Bio: Aubrey Carlson is a freelance writer who loves to help people. Her particular passion is health and wellness and helping her readers be equipped to aid others. In her free time, she loves to hike with her husband.