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Wandering at night..what to do?
Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 1:31 PM
Joined: 7/1/2019
Posts: 25

My Mom does not sleep well anymore.  She no longer has a sense of the passage of time nor can she tell time.  Consequently, for the past month or so she has been waking me up in the middle of the night.  Sometimes it's more than once.  One afternoon last week I attempted to catch up on much needed sleep.   She woke me three times during a short afternoon nap.

Would sleeping pills be a good idea?  I've never taken one so have no idea what they're like. I need something that will get Mom to sleep for a good 8 hours each night.

Otherwise, my only alternative is to lock her in the bedroom at night and that seems cruel.

Any ideas much appreciated.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 4:53 PM
Joined: 6/27/2019
Posts: 21

You might want to try Melaonin. It's otc, inexpensive, an natural. DW gets 5mg on retiring,  and sleeps most nights. 



Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 6:30 PM
Joined: 11/7/2019
Posts: 1


My mother lives with us  - we added an apartment onto our home for my parents nearly 9 years ago. The past two years Mom started declining and we are also experiencing her sleepless nights and wandering. We purchased and iPhone and iWatch for her to wear, it has GPS and we can use the Find A Friend feature. Also the iWatch will automatically call 911 if she falls. We had to disconnect the aspect of holding the button too long, that would also call 911, after we had three visits from the Sheriff and Troopers. The other thing we’ve done is put motion sensors on the doors - it sounds an alarm if she goes into the garage or outside. That’s helped, and the sensors weren’t that expensive - purchased at Best Buy. Plus we can take them with us if we travel or when my siblings take Mom for a weekend. 

Hope that helps a little. Good luck.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 7:39 PM
Joined: 7/3/2018
Posts: 63

Hi Donna,

I don’t know what State you live in, but we live in Florida and I was able to get my mom a medical marijuana license.  When her wandering and sundowning got out of control last fall, I did a lot of research as to what may help and found that a combination of CBD/THC oil could possibly help. -  And it has made a world of difference!  My mom sleeps thru the night now.  She takes the oil under her toungue - once in the morning (high cbd-low THC) and then once in the evening.  (Low cbd-low THC).   Most states that allow for Med Marijuana have now approved licenses for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.  My mom is also on a low dose of Lexapro (antidepressant).

Everyone is different though.  Hope you find something that helps.  It’s hard.

Dreamer Lost
Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 8:16 AM
Joined: 3/7/2019
Posts: 453

My DH also takes melatonin, 5 mg.  I  though have to be sure my DH gets plenty of activity and sunshine during the day. He also doesn't nap during the day which can get exhausting for me as he doesn't even sit down and doesn't let me nap.  Needless to say I am ready for bed myself at night and we go to bed early and then watch tv for a while.  Sleep though is so important, so do what you have to assure you get some sleep.  I also have an alarm so if a door is opened it goes off, in case he gets up at night and I am unaware of it.     Others have even gotten a Rx, Trazodone for their LO from their doctor when all else fails.
Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 11:06 AM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1091

Sleep disorders are common with dementia.  When my LO had trouble sleeping, her doctor prescribed a low dose med for bedtime and it really helped.
Posted: Friday, November 8, 2019 9:57 PM
Joined: 11/6/2019
Posts: 4

Ok, having dealt with this for a while I have some info that may help.. To help with sleep you can try melatonin, you want to get 3mg tablets of "extended release" and I was told I could give up to 10 a night.. but you need to start with 1 then 2, etc until you see how they react to it.

The reason you do NOT want to use sleeping pills is that they can make people VERY unsteady and a fall in the middle of the night could be much worse for an elderly person.. I know my mom fell flat on her face.. hardwood was awful.


as for THC/CBD.. Yet another bad idea unless they are in very good shape physically.. my Mom did not have the ability to walk after she tried a low dose.. and I discontinued ..after the affects wore off she could walk again.. close call..

It is very hard and I do end up losing a lot of sleep.. but for safety reasons you cannot lock them in a room.. if there is a fire they could be in danger of locked up.. and if anyone saw u locking someone up in a home you can he turned into Adult protective services..

I use a loud bell on the outside of the door.. and you can also put a flip lock (like from hotel rooms) on the front door to make it harder to figure out how to open..

good luck.




Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 2:57 AM
Joined: 7/1/2019
Posts: 25

Thank you everyone for your excellent ideas.  Mom's doctor phoned this afternoon and she suggested Melatonin 5mg to start.  She prefers to reserve the sleeping pills as a last resort. I purchased the Melatonin today so we'll see how that goes.


Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 7:37 PM
Joined: 7/3/2018
Posts: 63

Hi Donna,

Melatonin may help your mom, but 5mg is way too much to start with.  You actually want to start really low, between 1-2 mg.  Most people start out at .05 mg and if needed go up to 3mg.  I’m surprised your Dr. suggested 5mg to start. 

“ People commonly make the mistake of assuming that taking higher doses of melatonin will lead to better shut-eye. But the opposite is true: Too much taken at once can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or irritability, all of which can disrupt your sleep.”  - (quoted from Cleveland Clinic)

Hope this works for you.  Report back if you can.

Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 8:22 PM
Joined: 10/27/2019
Posts: 35

About two years ago DH was not wandering but extremely restless all night long. Tossing, turning, moving sheets and blankets around, pillows on the floor, sideways on the bed.  His neurologist prescribed 5 mg melatonin taken after dinner, and he sleeps rather well now with the exception of 2 or 3 trips to the bathroom and goes right back to sleep.  

The strength of the prescribed medication a lot of times depends on the size and weight of the patient.  DH is over 6 ft tall and weighs a bit over 250 lbs.

Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2019 9:03 AM
Joined: 6/11/2019
Posts: 517

Mom went through the wandering phase before we moved (thankfully). I had to lock doors with latches so I could get any sleep; it was not ideal.

At the new house, she hasn't been trying to escape at night (and it's been 6+ months we've been here -- knocking on wood as I type this!!!!) but a few months ago, she was just up ALL NIGHT. OF course she'd sleep while I was at work during the day, even with caregiver trying to keep her active. So … I did resort to meds.

Melatonin and Trazadone every night means an almost uninterrupted sleep for both of us. (She still gets up on her own to use the toilet once or twice a night usually and may or may not need a pant change and I get her back in bed but … it is SO much better than being up all night.


MN Chickadee
Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:07 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1039

Melatonin did not help my LO. She would wake up at 3 am and have no idea it was the middle of the night. She'd want breakfast and to get moving. We reached a point where it was really affecting our ability to care for her at home and decided to try a sleeping medication. Sure you try to avoid it as long as possible, but there comes a point where the risks are worth it. You can't expect to do this for the long haul if you don't ever get good sleep. Trazadone and Remeron are common drugs you see docs prescribe first. We happened to try Remeron first and had good results. My mom sleeps pretty well most nights, like 7-8 hours.  It took about a week to fully kick in, but now she has been taking it before bed for a few years.
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 1:11 AM
Joined: 3/9/2018
Posts: 9

Can your mom still read? I got my mom Clear Clock's for Alzheimer's that say in big letters on a bright screen in her bedroom that it is morning/afternoon/night. I make sure she wears night clothes (either a nightgown in the summer or PJs in the winter) and put a big sign up by the door in her bedroom and in the hallway that says: Mom, if it is dark outside and you still have your PJs or nightgown on, it's not time to get up yet. Snuggle back in bed until the sun comes up/7 am/care gets here, I get you up, etc" I also sometimes use a baby monitor to listen for her when I know she's restless.
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