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Which Sleep Movement Disorders Are Common Among Seniors?

By Debbie Waddell, 10:30 am on

Though sleep movement disorders affect adults of all ages, they can be especially problematic for seniors. Placer County, Folsom, and Granite Bay in-home elder care experts discuss a few of the most common sleep movement disorders in the elderly and offer tips on how to help your senior loved one manage them.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Approximately 15 percent of adults over age 80 develop restless legs syndrome, also known as RLS. This syndrome causes crawling, tingling, and pins and needles sensations in the extremities, which are often more severe at night. Although the exact cause of RLS is not known, the condition has been linked to various nerve conditions, iron deficiency anemia, and kidney failure.

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 a minute during sleep, which can make it difficult to maintain deep sleep and even affect a sleeping partner’s rest.

Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder

Rapid eye movement, or REM, is 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 do not stay immobile, allowing a person to act out his or her dreams, which poses a risk of serious injury. Although the condition can affect people of any age, it is 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. 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 install bed rails or padding or take other measures to ensure a senior’s safety while sleeping.

The professional caregivers from Home Care Assistance can also help your loved one manage a sleep movement disorder. Our dedicated caregivers can remind your loved one to take medications, drive him or her to doctor’s appointments, and stay overnight to ensure he or she remains safe while sleeping. In addition to respite and 24-hour care, we also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s, stroke, and Alzheimer’s home care Granite Bay, CA, seniors can count on. For more information on our in-home care services, call a qualified Care Manager at 916.226.3737 today.

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