Napping in itself isn’t unusual for seniors, especially if there are issues with sleep habits or medication, a lack of sufficient stimulation, or other health factors that cause them to be tired during the day. However, a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association suggests excessive napping could, in some instances, be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here’s a closer look at the findings and what to pay attention to if you’re caring for an older loved one.
Results from a Brain Comparison & Assessment
To examine the possibility of a link between excessive napping and AD, researchers looked at the brains of 13 individuals with the disease who had passed away. The scientists compared those observations to examinations of the brains of seven individuals who didn’t have Alzheimer’s. Specifically, researchers zeroed in on parts of the brain responsible for the ability to remain awake during the day. In the brains of the individuals with Alzheimer’s, researchers noted the degeneration of the system within the brain that handles wakefulness, which led them to conclude excessive daytime napping could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s.
If your loved one is excessively tired or sleepy during the day, he or she may need assistance with the tasks of everyday living. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Clearwater families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
A Possible Biological Pathway
Researchers believe there’s enough evidence to suggest a direct biological pathway or link between daytime sleepiness and Alzheimer’s disease. However, scientists involved with the study still aren’t sure how much time passes between the period when napping becomes an issue and when memory loss and other classic signs of AD develop. Researchers suggest follow-up studies are needed to learn more.
The Presence of Alzheimer’s-Related Protein Clumps
When evaluating the brains of people with AD, researchers noted the accumulation of a protein called tau in the wakefulness-promoting areas that were examined. Normally, this protein helps certain structures in the brain remain stable and strong so nerve cells in the brain can receive important nutrients. But in the brains of those with AD, these proteins collapse and form tangles, which keeps them from being able to transport essential nutrients to nerve cells. Tau clumps or tangles are also considered a sign of Alzheimer’s disease
If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, compassionate help is just a phone call away. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to address if their families opt for professional elder care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.
What Caregivers Can Do (& Look For)
As mentioned above, excessive napping during the day doesn’t automatically mean a senior has Alzheimer’s. This is a complex and common form of dementia that’s still not fully understood when it comes to how it develops in the brain. Still, a neurology and sleep medicine specialist reported to Healthline.com that sleep habits and AD seem to be linked, noting people with sleep issues tend to have an increased risk of developing the abnormal brain protein buildup associated with Alzheimer’s disease. What you can do as a caregiver is look for any unusual changes in behavior that could also be affecting alertness and mental clarity so your loved one’s doctor can be informed. Pay particular attention to:
• Changes in personality
• Napping that seems to occur for no clear reason
• Signs of forgetfulness or memory loss
• Unusual changes in mood
• A lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving 24-hour care. Clearwater, FL, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs professional home care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. To hire a compassionate, dedicated caregiver, call us at (727) 330-7862 today.