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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 05/15/12

My husband, who has Alzheimer’s, has been talking in his sleep non-stop for the past three nights. Sometimes I understand what he says and other times it is like rambling. Is this a new face of this condition? He also seems very angry and frustrated. Right now, I'm getting about two hours of sleep and I don't function well without my rest. Any suggestions? Thanks for listening.

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Name: Someonewhocares
Location: USA
Date: 08/19/2012
Time: 04:20 PM


When your husband is restless, pray out loud about the things that you can understand him saying. When I can't sleep, I take two aspirin--not sure if this has any medical interactions with your other meds. I try to journal and if focused enough--I'll read until I get sleepy. I keep my alarm radio set on the gospel station--I press the sleep timer for 15 minutes. . . I'm usually sleep before the 15 min are over. The gospel music is very soothing. You are loved. Someone is praying for you. Take care and God Bless You.

Name: Bert Wright
Location: Florida
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 10:00 AM


I've been dealing with this problem for months and wish I had an answer for you. My husband wakes me up several times each night and I am a zombie all day. The most disrupting thing is when he has been in bed a few hours and wants to get up and sit in his lift chair. Moving him and setting up everything he needs takes quite a bit of time. The doctor has given him medication to keep him quiet at night. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Last evening I finally convinced him to stay in his lift chair since he is comfortable there. I woke up delighted that I had really had a night's sleep and he informed me that he hadn't slept, so I am dreading tonight. The monitor by which I can hear him at all times did not indicate that he had moved a muscle all night so I don't know what to do either. Sorry I have no advice since some things work sometimes and others, not at all. Honestly, the anger and frustration he exhibits is as draining to me as the lack of sleep. Hope someone else has some ideas for us Christina. You are not alone.

Name: Sandi
Location: North Dakota
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 06:57 AM


Christina...I have lived this also. Right now we are both sleeping a little better, until 0400 when is up again; but we can get 6 hours! I knew I needed sleep to cope and function as I am also still working outside the home. He would ramble at night, groan, call out, reach out. In talking with his doc from Mayo I learned it was his way of reviewing life and doing memories; these would also be memories that would then be erased for him. I was to allow them to happen, react calmly, let him know that he was safe and I was with him. Later..due to fatigue on my part..his doctor ordered trazadone to help him sleep awhile. So far, it is working. This weekend he celebrates his 57th birthday. Talk to his physician for help. The medical provider wants you healthy too!

Name: RI
Location: Miami FL
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 06:32 AM


Oftentimes, changes in sleep patterns or changes in behaviors can be caused by a medical illness that has not yet been diagnosed (even without symptoms). It is advisable to see the treating physician, get a physical examination, and consider some blood work, a urine test etc. If the medical evaluation is completely normal, perhaps the Alzheimer's treatments can be optimized, or other tests can be ordered. FDA-approved drugs (like Aricept, Exelon patch, or Razadyne, can be used in combination with Namenda later on) may have some benefit with sleep and behavior as well as memory. There are other drugs that can be used as well to help specifically with sleep, although these need to be selected carefully (some are well tolerated, others are not advisable for Alzheimer's patients). Other sleep hygiene techniques may also be helpful (e.g., no caffeine after lunch time, soothing/calming music to be listened to while falling asleep). Hope this is helpful.

Name: Adrienne Peach
Location: North Palm Beach, Florida
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 06:10 AM


Christina, You are right about your rest, it is very important that you get enough sleep or you will both suffer. The first thing you may want to do is speak to your husband's doctor. This could be a reaction to medications or it could be a progression of the disease. If it is part of the disease, there are a few steps you can take if you are not already doing so. First is to make sure that your husband is exposed to daylight first thing in the morning and avoids stimulants at night. You can try exercise programs or walks, if able to do so functionally, during the day to help tire him a bit. Activity during the day may help him sleep a little better at night. These steps may sound basic, but they may help. Finances permitting, you may want to look into some programs that offer an aide, or maybe a respite program. You could contact your area Alzheimer's Association or your local Area Agency on Aging for information on programs that may be able to offer assistance to you. These programs are based on income, but often there are funding sources available to cover the cost if needed. If you are able to have someone come over a few hours during the day, perhaps you can take a nap to catch up on your sleep while you try out different things until a solution is found. Take care of yourself. Here’s wishing you a good night’s sleep. Adrienne Peach North Palm Seniors, Inc.

Name: Edith
Location: Illinois
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 06:06 AM


I know this problem well. We have coped by going to bed earlier (to read, or take our time getting ready). It gives me a chance to go to sleep earlier, even though I might have to get up and turn out his light. I have also 'talked' to him by asking, 'is everything all right? Are you OK?' He sometimes wakes and we talk about what he was dreaming and then he sleeps better. His dreams seem real to him but talking brings him back to 'reality.' Someone told me that talking to her snoring husband interrupted his snoring so I applied it to these talking dreams. The other thing is to settle down on the couch for a nap, even though the TV is going and he is watching. I can sneak in an hour in the afternoon this way. It really helps.

Name: Lisa
Location: Newport News
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 05:53 AM


I had the same problem with my mom, and it was a bigger deal than I'd realized at the time because it was an indicator that she was not sleeping well. And in the span of just a few days of this her day-time condition grew drastically worse from lack of sleep. We took her to the doctor on the 5th day and she was given new sleep medicine that made all the difference. Good luck.

Name: Dorothy
Location: Virginia
Date: 05/15/2012
Time: 05:44 AM


Being well-rested is very important for caregivers; it helps us cope better with our struggles. I use ear plugs and a white noise machine to drown out my husband's bipap machine. As to his anger, if he is having trouble communicating his wishes, of course he's feeling frustrated. An Alzheimer's support group would help you learn tips to foster better communication. He may also benefit from mood-stabilizing medication. Good luck!



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