Question: How should I deal with separation anxiety? When he goes to bed early, 2:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m., I have to go with him. He has Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, and sleep disorder.
Dr. Amy: One of the most distressing aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease is that it destroys the brain’s ability to think and remember things. The result is that people with Alzheimer’s get more confused as the disease progresses. They rely more and more on the presence of familiar people and things to help them feel safe, understand what’s going on, and know what they are supposed to do.
You may be able to deal with separation anxiety by providing reassurance that you are there with him. Perhaps you can establish some enjoyable bed time rituals that will trigger feelings of comfort and safety. Music can be calming, for example. A the same time, take note of things that are upsetting and avoid them. Perhaps you can stay with him until he falls asleep.
If you feel that your loved one’s sleep habits are not normal, I encourage you to talk to the doctor. You might also talk to the doctor about medication for anxiety if you feel that is appropriate.
The world can be a frightening place without you. He is very lucky to have you by his side. I am sure you may feel overwhelmed and frustrated sometimes. You’re on a difficult journey. Be patient with yourself and try to arrange for regular breaks. I send you strength!
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