Apply Now
RSS Feed Print
TV watching and change in sleep patterns
Amanda Grant
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2022 10:51 AM
Joined: 5/16/2022
Posts: 1


My single mother, 74 yrs old, was recently diagnosed a year ago with Mild Cognitive impairment and lives alone with her cat in a townhouse condo about 45 minutes away from me. She LOVES watching her netflix movies and shows for hours on end (The same show over and over again) and I've noticed it's starting to affect her sleep patterns. She also has begun yelling at the movie characters to the point her neighbors can hear her. A lot of times, she's watching the movies until the early morning hours then napping during the day then waking up and immediatly beginning them again in the AM. I think the lack of proper sleep mixed with her extensive TV watching is affecting her cognition and memory and possibly making it progress faster but without me being there 24/7, It's hard to know for sure. I'm scared to install a hidden camera because if she finds it, it will ruin any/all trust I've built up with her. She's still quite independent and no willing to acknowledge her diagnosis, but I also want to make sure she's going to bed at a reasonable hour...any suggestions on how to regulate her TV watching time and ease my anxiety? She still goes out walking with a friend frequently and says she is doing her word searches but it's hard to trust if what she is telling me is the truth or just to get me off her back.

Any suggestions are helpful as I am only 37 years old and an only child and am new/clueless to all of this!


CatsWithHandsAreTrouble
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2022 12:26 PM
Joined: 5/11/2022
Posts: 72


I'm in my thirties too and I can relate completely to the struggle of learning how to be a caregiver when still figuring out how to care for yourself at our age. It'll take a lot of learning.

How does she watch Netflix? My parents have a Roku tv and there's an option to set a sleep timer. I personally have not used it but I bet there's something in there that can turn the tv off after a set amount of time maybe even restricted times it'll turn on. 

A lot of tvs also have parental locks available to restrict what is viewable. Depending on how well your mom is with technology, she might not be able to bypass the settings if you tinker around with it. Maybe invite a family friend over to chat with her while you try changing the settings so she is distracted while you work.


Arrowhead
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2022 12:48 PM
Joined: 7/17/2020
Posts: 241


You are just like the rest of were at that stage.

My wife’s sleeping patterns have also changed from time to time. She often naps during the day, just to be awake during the night.  This is often a part of the process that many patients go through. Unless someone is there to keep her awake during the day, or to give her a sleep aid at night, there’s probably nothing you can do about it. My wife often talks to people she sees on the TV.  It’s probably not that your mother won’t accept her diagnosis. Many, if not most, honestly don’t realize that there is something wrong with them. Just remember that it is the disease that causes the behavior, not the other way around. I suggest that you BUY, and use, “The” 36-Hour Day” by Nancy L Mace and Peter V Rabins. It’s considered to be one of the best books on the subject. You can find it on Amazon. There are also excellent videos available on You Tube. Also, keep posting on this site. There are many here who have been through what you are going through.


harshedbuzz
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2022 1:49 PM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 3648


Amanda Grant wrote:

Hi and welcome.

My single mother, 74 yrs old, was recently diagnosed a year ago with Mild Cognitive impairment and lives alone with her cat in a townhouse condo about 45 minutes away from me. She LOVES watching her netflix movies and shows for hours on end (The same show over and over again) and I've noticed it's starting to affect her sleep patterns. She also has begun yelling at the movie characters to the point her neighbors can hear her.

MCI often progresses into dementia. Sometimes when the diagnosis is made by a PCP who's know a patient for years, MCI is offered as a diagnosis because it's emotionally challenging to give the Alzheimer's diagnosis given the terminal nature of the disease to someone you've cared for for years knowing what lies ahead. At any rate, yelling at the TV suggests significant confusion about the people in the TV being real which is much more suggestive of the middle stages of Alzheimer's or other dementia. It sounds as if she is sundowning- a common behavior that generally starts in the middle stages as well. 

In your shoes, I would arrange a therapeutic lie about needing to stay at her house for a few days and pay attention to what is going on. This will give you a better sense of what she's up to 24/7. 

I would have a concern about her carrying on at night. My dad was confused by TV-- fairly early on he had trouble telling reality from fiction. It was kind of funny when he thought he was the family patriarch on "Blue Bloods" but awful later when he started to internalize the storylines of mom's beloved crime dramas. I had to put parental controls on the TV to keep his viewing options benign. The other piece are the neighbors. If they've mentioned this to you and it continues to bother them or cause them to worry about mom, you could end up with police and/or APS involved. 


A lot of times, she's watching the movies until the early morning hours then napping during the day then waking up and immediatly beginning them again in the AM. I think the lack of proper sleep mixed with her extensive TV watching is affecting her cognition and memory and possibly making it progress faster but without me being there 24/7, It's hard to know for sure.

It's almost always a matter of the disease progression driving the behavior and not the other way around. 

 I'm scared to install a hidden camera because if she finds it, it will ruin any/all trust I've built up with her. She's still quite independent and no willing to acknowledge her diagnosis,

Many PWD also have a condition called anosognosia where they are unable to appreciate that they have had a cognitive shift. This is different than denial or not owing her condition. 


but I also want to make sure she's going to bed at a reasonable hour...any suggestions on how to regulate her TV watching time and ease my anxiety?

Parental controls. But she might stay up getting into other kinds of activities that are disruptive and potentially dangerous. 

She still goes out walking with a friend frequently and says she is doing her word searches but it's hard to trust if what she is telling me is the truth or just to get me off her back.

PWD tend to be really bad reporters. They often describe their day-to-day life in terms of the life they lived years past. My dad always told doctors he golfed several times weekly and spent most other days swimming at the pool after he was diagnosed. When I sold his house in FL, my mom's friends said that he hadn't done either of those things in the past 5-6 years.

Word searches are a pleasant pastime, but I wouldn't push them as some sort of therapy. The brain is not a muscle that can be exercised. My dear auntie did the NYT crossword daily. When we cleaned out her house upon admission to MC, I found a 12' long closet filled with grocery sacks filled with years of puzzles- the old ones on the bottom were mostly done but as they piled up the newer ones weren't even started and the bags I found under her bed were just cut out grids with no clues included. But she swore she did the puzzle daily. 

Staying with her might clear this up. You could ask the friend about the walks and how mom seems if/when they do this. 

Any suggestions are helpful as I am only 37 years old and an only child and am new/clueless to all of this!

Getting all up in a parent's business is hard at any age. This is especially true in the early-mid stages when the PWD can still seem kind of OK most of the time. 

My advice would be to spend a few days observing, having a recheck with the neurologist and getting the necessary paperwork done with a certified elder law attorney if she hasn't yet.



MN Chickadee
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2022 9:00 AM
Joined: 9/7/2014
Posts: 1540


They make outlets and outlet adapters that can be controlled by a smart phone and/or set to schedule which would render the tv unable to turn on at certain times, however this sounds like a band-aid for a much bigger problem. I would second making up an excuse to stay with her a few days. You need to observe her 24 hours a day for a while to get the whole picture of what her current cognition is like. Maybe your own home or apartment is being worked on or has no water or something, you are excited to come spend a couple days with her and have some quality time together. There can be A LOT going on behind the scenes that gets missed if you aren't there, many people with dementia can put on a good show for short periods of time but in reality are totally struggling with every day life. You need to see if she is safe (with kitchen appliances, knowing what to do if there was an emergency, financially safe from scammers and poor financial decisions, is she eating properly and not leaving food  out too long, taking her meds on time, not over or under feeding the cat and many other things.)  These issues with TV are likely not the only things going on, they are only the ones coming to your attention at the moment. There are warning signs that perhaps her MCI has progressed. She is switching her days for nights and/or not sleeping in any long enough chunk that she needs to be healthy. She is watching the same show over and over. Yelling at the television so loud she disturbs neighbors. All of these suggest her judgement is compromised, which usually means it is compromised in other realms and not just this one issue. It is hard to make the transition to parenting your parent. Roles reverse. It is not an easy step but it's what we have to do with dementia. You get used to it with time. Usually we have to use therapeutic fibs because their minds don't process logic and reasoning like they used to. If you haven't yet, NOW is the time to see an elder law attorney to get POA and legal paperwork done while she can still sign and the attorney can also help with long term financial planning for her care if/when she needs it. You may need to use therapeutic fibs for that too. Maybe you are also doing your paperwork and the attorney is giving you a two for one deal. Maybe it's to "protect her assets" or allow you to visit her in the hospital or whatever buttons might work for her to go along with it. Good luck and keep us posted.
emmamom
Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2022 4:12 PM
Joined: 4/24/2022
Posts: 8


I live a little bit away from my mom and decided to buy her a new TV so she could watch her favorite shows online. She was so happy
Rescue mom
Posted: Sunday, June 5, 2022 4:31 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 2567


A strong second and support for what HBuzz and chickadee already said. From what you say about her behavior with the TV, it sounds like the disease has progressed, which is sadly what happens. It’s almost certain this is not her only issue, just maybe the most obvious one.

 TV doesn’t cause the problem(s), the disease causes problems like this and more. Nor will puzzles help it (we wish so much they did, that would be wonderful). But many PWDs do get easily upset by what they see, so parental controls, or however whatever you may need to better control her watching, are good things. 

 She may not be *able* to discuss it, nor understand it. You cannot “convince” them. Their brain is broken. They lose logic and reasoning. And they often or usually are not dependable to tell you what they’re doing or have done. If you have not spent a few full days and nights with her, that would be a great place to start. 

I’m sorry, it’s really hard when you have to become the parent. But that’s what’s happening. This disease only gets worse. They do not get better. But there’s enormous help to be found on these boards if you read through them.

As said, if she disturbs neighbors, or instigates any police complaints,  that could be really bad, for you both. 

Your local Alzheimer’s Association also can be a huge help for you, at no cost. They will talk to you about things to watch out, and what resources for help are available in your area.


aannaa
Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2022 3:08 AM
Joined: 1/3/2022
Posts: 12


My neighbor likes to watch TV but I often point out to her that it costs less time. She has many hobbies: embroidery, drawing, reading and it's cool
 
× Close Menu