Alzheimer`s Disease/anxiety and sleeping


Hi Cindy,
 My question today is about my mom's anxiety and now not sleeping through the night,which I think is referred to as "sundowners syndrome". Anyway mom has always been a nervous person and the dementia has just made it even worse. She has live-in caregivers and I am there at least 3 days a week. Since she had a UTI a few weeks back and was in the hospital I have been there at least 2 times a day. When I am there she tells me that she is going to miss me and then gets upset when I am ready to leave. The last two nights I sat with her until she fell asleep at 10:30. Last night was the longest she slept in a row this whole past week and that was 5 hours. Her PCP prescribed xanax for her, which I got to give her for the first time last night and am assuming that is what got her to sleep for 5 hours although it took 2 hours to kick in and during that time she seemed even more confused so I am leery about giving to her during the day for anxiety. My question is what do you feel is a good anxiety med for dementia patients and also for sleeping, we were trying to use one drug for both but am willing to do different ones if that will work better.

Hello Lisa:
I know it's a huge strain on the family when the elder with dementia is not sleeping through the night.  It's great that she has live-in caregivers and I hope that can continue.  
Lisa, I am not a physician so would only be guessing at the meds.  I have seen good results with Lexapro for anxiety and depression and it has a rather low side effect profile.  If she has less anxiety she may sleep better--or she may not.  There is no way to tell.  You are correct in hesitating to give her the Xanax during the day.  It can cause dizziness and falls--as many of these medications can.  My suggestion would be to take her to either a geriatrician or a neurologist to talk about the meds.  Certainly try calming activities before bedtime such as massage, reminiscence about happy times, music, reading to her, etc.  I wish you much luck Lisa as you continue to try to find ways to make your dear mother's life better.  Cindy

Alzheimer`s Disease

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner


As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.


I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

©2017 All rights reserved.