Sleep Challenges for Residents in Assisted Living Facilities

In one of her most recent posts, Dr. Eleanor Barbera, an accomplished speaker and consultant with over 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, dissected sleep challenges of older adults. Dr. Barbera explains the negative side effects coming from these challenges and how they effect basic patient care practices.

“Poor sleep is associated with cognitive and physical deficits. It can impair residents’ ability to participate in rehab and negatively affect their moods and their interactions with others, including the staff members there to help them (whose job is hard enough).

Residents who can’t sleep through the night due to elements within the control of the facility are not happy with this situation. They’re less satisfied with their stays and therefore less likely to recommend the facility to their friends and neighbors.

As illuminating as it would be, you needn’t sleep in your facility for a week to find out which staff training and policies will remedy the problem. The residents have told me what keeps them up at night and I’ve outlined a “sleep hygiene” training program based on that. 

A basic “sleep hygiene” program will:

·      Set the expectation that employees are working in the residents’ homes and should be mindful of their slumber. This includes talking in calm, hushed tones and turning off unnecessary lights after nighttime care.

·      Limit fluids in the evening, provide toileting before bedtime and offer swift, calm and prepared mid-night care that increases the likelihood that residents can go back to sleep.

·      Communicate between shifts so that the elders who have gotten up earliest get to bed soonest if they desire.

·      Prioritize pain management, particularly if it’s interfering with sleep.

·      Refer residents experiencing sleep difficulty due to anxiety or depression to the consulting psychologist.

·      Attend to agitated residents immediately so that they don’t wake their neighbors.

·      Find peaceful nighttime pursuits for elders with dementia-related sleep disturbance such as magazines, drawing or music on headsets.

·      Replace noisy medical equipment such as oxygen machines with quieter models.

·      Select roommates with attention to sleep habits and nighttime needs.

·      Create a policy for quiet hours after, say, 10 p.m. and require low volumes or headsets for electronics after that.

·      Train teams to collaborate between shifts so that they identify and assist residents who are asleep during the day and up at night to reestablish regular sleep patterns.”

We thought Dr. Barbera listed important benefits from using a “sleep hygiene program” and wanted to share them with you!

To read Dr. Barbera’s full post, click here.

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