Seniors with dementia often face a number of troubling symptoms. From increased anxiety and depression to decreased ability to sleep and relax, seniors and their caregivers can struggle to find relief. Although there are medicines that can help, there runs a risk of negative reactions and side effects that can cause more harm than good, but doing nothing is simply not an option. In order to help your loved one combat negative dementia symptoms, it’s important to try holistic therapies and groundbreaking new ways to ease their symptoms, such as weighted blankets. According to Winsome McLeod, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Stuart, a Memory Care community in Stuart, Florida, weighted blankets are a great benefit to seniors who are living with dementia. “When seniors have dementia, they may be feeling more uncomfortable, unsettled and become agitated easily, especially around bedtime or when they don’t get very good sleep at night,” McLeod states. “Caregivers can easily notice this becoming a problem, especially as their own sleep lessens and challenging behaviors begin keeping them and their loved one up at night. While some may think there’s nothing that can be done, and that sleeplessness and sundowning are just symptoms of dementia, it’s important to realize how weighted blankets may be able to help comfort your loved one and give you both the rest you need.”
How do they work?
According to an article on HGTV’s website, Weighted Blankets: The Hottest New Bedding Trend, weighted blankets work “like a warm hug to soothe the user.” The article states that the all-over pressure provided by weighted blankets creates multiple calming effects on the body since the weight triggers the release of:
- Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone
- Melatonin, the sleep hormone
- Serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer
By releasing these hormones into the body, weighted blankets can provide a therapeutic benefit equal to that some need to take medications for. The presence of these hormones and natural chemicals then cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to decrease, and, as a result, lowers stress levels, allows for relaxation and better sleep and helps users wake up feeling refreshed.
Weighted Blankets: Therapeutic Benefits for Seniors
While the therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets can be far-reaching and help anyone no matter what their age or illness, these blankets may be especially beneficial for seniors who are dealing with memory loss. There are many reasons for this, including:
- Improves sleep. Seniors with dementia need a good night’s sleep. Weighted blankets can help by promoting relaxation and increasing your loved one’s comfort. This blanket, since it feels like a warm hug, can help your loved one feel as though someone is there and ready to help if needed, much like a security blanket.
- Decreases anxiety and depression. Weighted blankets, because they increase the level of serotonin the body produces, can decrease the risks of anxiety and depression. This can be especially beneficial for caregivers to try, especially if they are noticing the warning signs of depression.
- Provides non-medicinal treatment. Many seniors with dementia are already taking a range of medications. When issues like depression and lessened sleep arise, it may be concerning for more to be prescribed, especially when it could cause an array of negative reactions and side effects. Weighted blankets could help to provide a therapeutic and holistic approach to common problems seniors face.
- Reduces the urge to wander. Because seniors with dementia may be getting more sleep, be less agitated and feel more comfortable at night, they may not be as prone to wandering. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue trying to prevent it, but it could help to alleviate the urges.
If these benefits would help you or your loved one with dementia, consider purchasing one. However, before purchasing a weighted blanket, be sure to talk to your loved one’s doctor. They each have varying weight and, depending on age and the weight of the senior, there may be a specific weight you should not exceed. Your doctor will be able to help guide you in the right direction. They will also be able to tell you where you can purchase a weighted blanket and which brand they recommend, although many can be purchased on Amazon or even in stores like Bed Bath and Beyond. For more information on how weighted blankets can provide therapeutic benefits to seniors with dementia, or to learn more about holistic therapies, contact the team at YourLife™ of Stuart. We would be happy to help you find the ideal ways to provide your loved one with the support they deserve, while helping you provide optimal care.
Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Stuart was created with one purpose – to provide the most exceptional memory care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. As memory care specialists, we focus all our energy, attention and resources to creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality, while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. Because memory care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We see each resident as an individual, understanding that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities. With that information, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. Through our signature programming, YourStory, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and health and wellness programming, scheduled outings and other special events to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Stuart, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!