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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Caring for Parents, Keeping Them Healthy

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Sleep and Older Adults continued...

Cotton pajamas and sheets are less irritating than synthetics.

Restless leg syndrome is a condition in which one leg or both legs experience nervous sensations that cause excessive movement. It's a fairly common condition that can often be treated with medication, iron supplements, and exercise. Is this what's keeping your loved one awake? Find out more online and talk to your doctor.

Does Dad's snoring rock the house? Is Grandma really sleepy in the morning and drowsy during the day? They may have sleep apnea, a disorder in which the person stops breathing at points during sleep. Consistent loud snoring, observed episodes of not breathing, and morning and daytime sleepiness are some of the warning signs. Men, people who are over forty, and people who are overweight are all at higher risk, but anyone can have it, and it's more common than diabetes. Sleep apnea can lead to insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, headaches, memory problems, excessive drowsiness, depression, impotence -- the list goes on.

Make sure the mattress your father sleeps on is comfortable and right for him. Soft beds are nice, but maybe he needs more support. It's easier to rise from a firm mattress.

Some people are just not morning people. If getting your parent up every morning is a problem and you already have enough to do at that hour, let her stay in bed until midmorning, if she likes, and get her up after the family has gone off to work and school.

While it may be tempting to take naps, they should be avoided if they interfere with getting a good night's sleep.

Arrange calming activities before bedtime; this is a time for reading, soft music, and soothing conversation. Have your loved one spend some time in pajamas before settling in to sleep.

Saying prayers together before bedtime can be a wonderful ritual.

Maybe Mom can't sleep because she has issues she can't talk about. Try to discuss this with her, or suggest she discuss the problem with another member of the family or a professional.

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