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4 Signs a Family Needs Overnight Caregiving Help

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October 5, 2016

Seniors may experience many types of medical conditions that negatively affect their ability to sleep, as you may know. Alzheimer’s might trigger rummaging behavior in the middle of the night. Prostate troubles or overactive bladder might prompt parading to the bathroom all night long. Chronic pain may make pacing the floor a more comfortable activity than lying in bed.

When a senior’s care needs escalate and keep a family caregiver up all night, it may be time for the family to call for outside assistance, which isn’t always an easy step for them. As a senior care professional, you can play a key role in sparking a conversation about when a family should consider getting help from a professional caregiver using some subjective criteria to help evaluate the situation.

A professional overnight caregiver can benefit the waking senior by providing skillful care and supervision while family caregivers get the rest they deserve. Here are four points you can evaluate to help a family determine if they should bring in overnight caregiving help.

1. Frequency of waking episodes

Ask your clients how many times they get up in the middle of the night to assist the senior loved one, on average. If the senior needs assistance more than three times each night on a consistent basis, then the family probably could benefit from overnight caregiving. On the other hand, if the senior only rises occasionally, then the burden on the family caregiver may not warrant outside help.

2. Behavioral issues

Certain behaviors can result in extended periods of nighttime wakefulness or require very hawkish attention. For instance, the rummaging behavior of Alzheimer’s can cause a senior to be awake for an hour or more. A history of wandering might indicate a need for nighttime vigilance that a family member simply cannot provide.

3. Physical condition of the senior

As a senior care professional you may be aware that several medical conditions and medications can affect a senior’s strength, balance and cognition. Chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease can cause weak legs that lead to midnight falls. Seniors can waken despite taking a powerful sleeping pill and be very groggy as they try to navigate their environment. A senior who cannot self-transfer due to a broken hip or medical condition may require a higher level of nighttime care that includes toileting assistance or help using mobility devices. In general, any senior who suffers from physical debility could benefit from professional overnight caregiving, especially from a fall prevention standpoint.

4. Physical and mental condition of the family caregiver

When you visit with the family, does the caregiver look haggard and sleep-deprived? If so, that’s a good indication he or she could use some professional care assistance. Family caregivers often will not discuss their burden in front of the senior they care for, so try to initiate a private discussion to truly discern how much sleep the caregivers are getting and whether or not their health is suffering as a result of their role. Family caregivers who neglect their own needs run the risk of being unable to continue caring for their loved one. Your sensitive intervention can help them see the value of accepting help.

Many families do not realize overnight caregiving assistance is available to them. These services can provide peace-of-mind and allow family caregivers to catch up on sleep, even when the overnight care is provided on just a respite basis. Home Instead Senior Care® provides highly trained overnight CAREGivers to benefit seniors and their families across the United States and Canada. Go to to learn more.

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