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Expert Advice

Not so perfect sleep

Since mum’s retired and living alone, she has been staying up watching TV for most of the night and sleeping in the daytime. Should I be concerned?

As we get older, our sleep patterns change, we produce less melatonin. Our poor sleep can also be a result of one or more conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. Here are some tips to share:
• Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
• Nap for no longer than 20 minutes.
• Do not read, watch TV, or eat in bed.
• Avoid caffeine for 8 hours before bedtime.
• Avoid nicotine and alcohol in the evening.
• Get regular exercise.
• Check medicines that might interfere with sleep.  

Also, if you find mum sleeping in a recliner or telling you she’s waking up many times throughout the night, it is important to talk to your doctor. He or she can review symptoms, prescribe tests, medicines or treatments and look for any underlying health problems. 

Best choices

How can I make sure my dad has the best care —his health is failing. How do I make the right choice?

Taking responsibility for someone else’s care  is often daunting, especially when the situation is difficult or next to impossible to fix.

The best thing to do is talk to your dad about what he’d like and see if there are alternatives based on his preferences. Oftentimes, seeking professional advice from an occupational therapist who specializes in working with older adults is helpful – they’ll help you to review his current situation, his mobility, risk factors, ability to live independently and also discuss potential alternatives.

Difficult in-laws make caring hopeless

My mother and father-in-law have never liked me and can be quite nasty after they’ve had several cocktails. Both of them have failing health and I find myself in a position of having to care for them, get their groceries and take them to appointments, etc. We’re a military family and my husband (their son) is stationed overseas so he’s unable to provide any support. He wants me to handle everything, including their bills… Along with our three very active, young kids. Who can I turn to for help?

Your situation is difficult and it sounds like you can’t continue this way. The sooner you can get help to deal with the situation, the better. They may be reluctant but your husband needs to talk to them about either private home care or assistance from a local government home care provider. You could also request help from their family doctor. An assessment can be done to find out their risk factors and ability to live on their own and what they really need. There are also meal delivery programs and volunteer community care drivers to help older adults get around. One other note… you don’t mention other siblings. Hopefully you can encourage them or even your husband from afar to manage their finances. After all, most payments and bank account information is online now.

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