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3 Common Sleep Movement Disorders Affecting Seniors

The elderly 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. Redondo Beach in-home elder care professionals discuss 3 sleep movement disorders affecting the elderly and offer tips on how your aging loved one can manage them.

1. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder is characterized by the acting out of vivid dreams during rapid eye movement sleep. The brain normally keeps us from moving during REM sleep. With REM sleep behavior disorder, the muscles remain mobile, which allows the individual to move and thrash about, sometimes violently. This condition is most often seen in men over age 50.

2. Periodic Limb Movement Disorder

Also known as PLMD, periodic limb movement disorder can cause sleep disruption for both the affected senior and his or her sleep partner. People with PLMD will suddenly move or jerk their legs during sleep, which can occur as often as every 20 to 30 seconds. 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.

3. Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome, often referred to as RLS, can be caused by many of the same factors and conditions as PLMD. Seniors with RLS experience tingling and pins and needles sensations in their legs, which are most noticeable when at rest. Approximately 15 percent of seniors over the age of 80 are believed to have RLS.

Managing Sleep Movement Disorders

If your loved one has a sleep movement disorder, the first step in treating it is to have his or her doctor rule out underlying health conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Leg massages and hot baths may alleviate mild symptoms of RLS. Benzodiazepines, anticonvulsant medications, and certain Parkinson’s medications may help relieve the symptoms of both RLS and PLMD, and clonazepam and melatonin may help reduce or eliminate symptoms of REM sleep movement disorder. Make sure the doctor approves any medications before your loved one takes them. If your loved one has been hitting or running while sleeping, it may also be necessary to implement safety measures, including moving furniture out of the way, securing windows and external doors, and placing barriers on the side of the bed.

If you are concerned about your loved one’s safety while sleeping, consider hiring a professional caregiver from Home Care Assistance to watch over him or her. Our live-in and respite caregivers can provide medication reminders, drive your loved one to medical appointments, and help around the house with a wide array of tasks. We also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and Alzheimer’s care Redondo Beach families trust. For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced Care Managers, call (310) 504-0506 today.