Sleeping Difficulties Suggestions

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ejb24d2

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My mother has upper limb onset. She is now unable to move her arms. She is struggling at nighttime to get comfortable and stay asleep. Her left arm specifically gives her such trouble because she can’t get it in a comfortable position. She also cannot keep a good temperature but is unable to remove or add covers. We have tried many different pillows and tried propping up her arm different ways. She sleeps on her back with her head elevated.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can make her more comfortable at night? We are feeling at a loss and not finding any solutions to make it better. My heart breaks to see her in pain and so frustrated. Just want to try anything that might make it better.
 

lgelb

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Very sorry to hear about your mom. Does she have a latex or other foam overlay? Keeping the back comfortable plays into all the rest. A hospital bed mattress is generally not enough for filling the gaps around the spine for people who can't move. Also, slightly elevating the legs can help take pressure off the hips and knees.

Because aggressive propping can compromise the joints, it's best to keep the arm as close as possible to the way she used to sleep, which probably was bent and close to her core/on her torso. We used small travel pillows, not big ones, and filled in gaps with foam blocks (if you live near a foam store, they often have remnants to discard, or cannibalize/cut your pillow collection). You want to make sure that each shoulder, elbow and wrist joint is supported.

To keep a constant temperature, I always recommend trying a low voltage heated mattress pad, starting on the lowest setting. It can go under the overlay, which will protect it from fluids. A fan may also help, since feeling "hot" can be more feeling stuffiness esp. in furnace weather. Keeping furnace filters, BiPAP filters (if applicable; I gather not) and pillow cases clean and allergen-free, and controlling humidity as well as temperature in the room as well can help.

I would also consider preventive strategies like a nasal steroid before bed to keep the nose clear, and you have seen lots of threads about medications to facilitate deeper sleep. It helps some people to drift off to music, audiobooks and the like. Sleep is a psychological thing, not just about what hurts.

Best,
Laurie
 

Doglady

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Laurie - you give so many good suggestions. I’ve learned a lot myself from your post. I already do some of what you mention but will undoubtedly implement more as my arms continued to weaken. thank you!

In addition- if elbows become sore from contact with bedclothes arm protectors do help. My lower back started to become painful so I use one of those small travel (or toddler) pillows under it in bed and in my recliner. That kind of pillow works best now under my head too. Bigger ones are hard to adjust and very annoying. Audio books and podcasts set at a very low volume and runing all night make it easier to tolerate periods of wakefulness. They can’t be too interesting though! I have a digital clock that shines the time on the ceiling above my bed so if I wake I don’t have to worry about it. I also keep a dim light on. I just try to stay comfortable and calm so that I can fall back to sleep quickly.

I hope your mother can be helped to be very comfortable. Sleep is so important!
Mary
 

Jimi

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I spend 22-23 hours a day in my recliner. Paralyzed from the shoulders down. I am comfortable. I have access to my computer 24/7. This allows me to independently control many things in my environment, including my recliner position. As Laurie pointed out, there is a psychological part to this that is important. For me, having control over the environment thru home automation is vital to my sanity. I'm not sure what you have access to, but a fan plugged into a smart plug and an inexpensive smart speaker would give her the ability to control her fan. Then you can work on control for a space heater. At least she could adjust her room temperature herself. Also if possible, having access to a computer or smart speaker at night can give her music, podcasts and the like. Ideally it would be great to get her into accessing a computer over a smart speaker so when/if her speech becomes difficult, she will still have some control over her comfort. Sorry if this sounds complicated. It's really not. If she can still speak OK, starting with some simple smart speaker stuff might help her and keeping the brain active is always helpful! All the best, Jim
 

lgelb

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Welcome, Barr. Usually a hospital bed takes care of the need for elevating the head and legs, though pressure boots, if used, do add a little height. Has your experience been different?

Best,
Laurie
 
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