Insomnia in dementia.
Dementia is a severe mental disorder that is, sadly, often associated with old age. People who suffer from dementia retain long-standing or very old memories and skills but become increasingly unable to retain new information or formulate new memories.
They remember people that they know but they may begin completely forgetting that they saw them just the day before. When dementia becomes advanced enough the person will regress into extremely childish behaviors and may have great trouble performing many routine physical activities.
According to ‘Health A to Z’, “The person with dementia may…become more passive, depressed, or anxious…Sleep disturbances may occur, including insomnia and sleep interruptions.” Research done by some French scientists concluded that women are more likely than men to manifest insomnia as a symptom of insomnia.
Therefore, a condition of chronic insomnia may indicate that a person is beginning to suffer from dementia and should be checked out immediately by a physician, especially if they are a woman beyond the age of 65.
In fact, according to W. Vaughn McCall, M.D., M.S., director of the sleep laboratory at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, “Chronic insomnia is an under-recognized, under-diagnosed and under-treated disorder that is not only more prevalent in the elderly than the general population, but also potentially serious, as it can be associated with increased risk for injurious falls and impairment of cognitive function, which can be misdiagnosed as dementia. In patients with dementia, insomnia is also the most frequently cited reason for nursing home placement.”
Insomniacs suffer from their own physical and mental symptoms because of their lack of sleep: highly increased risk of depression, alcoholism, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Therefore, insomnia in dementia is only going to compound an already horrible, tragic condition. But depression and anxiety can be signs of insomnia alone, so nobody should ever leap to the conclusion that someone they care about or know is beginning to show signs of dementia due to these reasons until medical professionals are consulted.
If dementia is diagnosed in its early stages it can be successfully treated with medications. However, some powerful pharmaceuticals can have insomnia as one of their negative side-effects, which many necessitate taking additional sleep-aid medications. Sleep-aid medications have typically been shown to work very well, though.