Getting up all night because your loved one is up will leave you exhausted, frustrated, and worn out.
We, who have seen urinary incontinence know how you feel. Today, we are going to deal mostly with urinary incontinence because it is the easiest to eliminate, but this is not the only reason for them being up all night. We can address the others and finally figure out how you are going to get back your 8 hours of needed sleep each night. It is doable and takes time to stop the behavior. .
So let’s solve this “getting up all night”.
Step One: you have to eliminate why they are getting up.
Step two: you have to remove all stimulation.
Step three: you need to see if they need help falling asleep or staying asleep.
NOTE: Urinary Incontinence is not a part of normal aging. Is it common? Yes! But is it normal? No!
If your loved one is getting up to use the bathroom, what are the reasons?
You can’t figure this out without the help of your loved one’s doctor. AND, your loved one’s doctor can’t figure this out without your help either.
So let’s bring some common sense to the table
First off, keep a journal on how often they get up every night. Try to do this for at least seven days and nights. Do not keep a journal when they are ill or starting a new medication.
Most doctors will ask you how often they go during the day to compare it with how often they go at night. This will give them an idea if they are really getting up to use the bathroom or have another reason to wake up every night.
Please see the free questionnaire below. Fill it out to the best of your ability and take it or send it over to your loved one’s doctor.
The doctor will check for a urinary infection. They usually order a urine culture as well. The reason they do this is to see what kind of bacteria (if any) is growing in the urine so they can treat it with the right antibiotic(s). Some doctors will ask for another urine sample 10 days later to make sure the urine is clear from bacteria.
Always start with the doctor. If you feel you are pushed away, the questions go unanswered, the discussion plans are minimum, then push this questionnaire in front of them. Tell them you did as much homework to be ready for this office visit as you could.
Make an appointment to return in three weeks to be sure to follow through with the next steps. Remember, incontinence is not a part of normal aging.
Getting up all night is not OK for your health and for theirs. If urinary incontinence is not the reason they are getting up all night, then let’s look at the next reasons and see how to fix this.
Step 2 and Step 3: Stimulation and difficulty staying asleep.
This is another huge topic that I will address in another series. Sleep deprivation or insomnia has numerous reasons, including medical conditions, medications, psychiatric disorders, and poor sleep hygiene. In the elderly, insomnia is complex and often difficult to relieve because of the ever-changing aging human body. In most cases, however, a practical management approach is to first consider depression, medications, or both, as potential causes. Sleep apnea also should be considered. Regardless of the cause of getting up all night, most patients benefit from behavioral approaches that focus on good sleep habits.