“I’m awake anyway, ‘cause I gotta go to the bathroom,” US President Barack Obama quipped at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ dinner when he spoke about getting old, counting down the days to his ‘death panel,’ and being up at 3 a.m. (see the video clip below).
The audience laughed.
Why? Because even Presidents can’t escape the vagaries of aging. It’s common to have to go to bathroom more frequently, especially at night, as we grow older. We produce more urine, and we may feel the urge to relieve ourselves more often because our bladders become unstable.
A 2015 Mirror UK article suggests six other reasons people may have trouble sleeping; they include leg cramps, back pain, and breathing issues. I can think of others: lights shining in your eyes, or someone else’s snoring.
At the bottom of the Mirror article, a Yes/No survey shows that 81 per cent of the more than two thousand respondents said they have regular trouble sleeping at night.
My guess is most of them, maybe even all of them, don’t have dementia.
I did my own survey, a version of the Nursing Home Behaviour Problem Scale (NHBPS), in which I invited people who don’t live with dementia to say how they would respond to circumstances in which people who live with dementia might find themselves while residing in long-term care facilities.
Question 4 on the thirty-three-question survey was : “Do you sometimes wake up in the night?”
Not surprisingly, 95 per cent of the respondents answered “yes,” they do wake up in the night.
Clearly, waking up in the night is normal behaviour. Except if you live with dementia.
If you live with dementia, and you reside in a long term care facility in most places in the world, the normal behaviour of waking up in the night will more than likely be seen as a problem.
And because your behaviour is seen as a problem, you also become a problem and a candidate to be medicated with antipsychotic drugs that impair your ability to engage with life, and also increase your chances of dying from side effects.
If you’re the US President, people will laugh with you about getting up in the night:
People may laugh at your normal behaviour if they think you’re like them. But if you live with dementia, they’ll probably sedate you instead.
- “Awakens during the night” is #4 on the NHBPS
© Susan Macaulay / MyAlzheimersStory.com 2016
Copyright: vvvisual / 123RF Stock Photo