Can weighted blankets for dementia patients?Weighted blankets can be used for different groups of people, such as insomnia and anxiety, dementia patients.
Weighted Blankets in Dementia Care
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common kind of dementia, and it is not kind, at all.
Alzheimer involves cell death and tissue loss in the brain, and the early symptoms include a decline in language ability and cognitive function. If cared wrongly, Alzheimer’s disease can lead to a development of other stronger kinds of dementia.
Dementia involves several conditions related to the loss of cognitive functioning. Apart from Alzheimer’s, dementia has some other types, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases.
No treatments exist to slow or stop dementia development caused by progressive dementias, or neurodegenerative diseases. However, experts claim the quality of life highly depends on the level of care that the person receives.
Both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, cause adults to feel anxious and agitated, or suffer from sleep disorders. Certain drugs help to alleviate these issues, but sometimes they can do more harm than good.
Sensory stimulation is a proven drug-free way to improve sleep, combat anxiety, and calm nerves. It’s so simple that you can generally find the objects you need to experiment with it around your house, that can provide a wide range of stimulation to all the five senses.
There are also many products you can buy that are focused on helping with sensory stimulation therapy, like weighted blankets and weighted lap pads.
Moreover, there are sensory activities that help to ease the symptoms of dementia. They are:
Exercises such as yoga or walking
Many caregivers apply the use of weighted blankets in the elderly as a way to help to ward off anxiety and alleviate sleep disturbances often associated with dementia.
There are also the called “fidget blankets”, which are made to provide a diversity of activities, by containing charms and trinkets within the reach of the patient. Alzheimer’s fidget blankets are particularly useful as they help to keep the hands busy in a soothing and safe way.
But let’s talk about the pros and cons of weighted blankets and weighted lap pads first.
How Weighted Blankets Help to Relieve Alzheimer’s and Dementia Symptoms
Weighted quilts in Alzheimer’s and dementia care have their benefits and also some drawbacks. Although they’ve been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, they’re not for everyone. The key is to choose the right weight, as a too heavy blanket can cause discomfort and even injuries on the most delicate patients.
Weighted blankets for adults with Alzheimer’s must not be more than 25 pounds. They must be about 5% to 10% of the body’s weight. Be sure to consult a doctor before choosing the blanket.
Due to deep pressure therapy, a weighted blanket helps to feel calmer and fall asleep faster. There are patients with Alzheimer’s disease who claim that heavy quilts help them take a quality nap in the afternoon.
Other patients use the blankets to reduce the mood swings and panic attacks as well as prevent them from overthinking about their disease, unless they don’t understand they have it, this is called anosognosia1.
However, the use of weighted blankets in the elderly is something that has to be done with caution. As these aren’t recommended for people with serious medical conditions, such as temperature regulation, circulatory, or respiratory issues. Some patients may feel irritated every time someone places something heavy – be it a blanket or lap pad on their body.
Because of this, when planning to use weighted blankets in dementia care, it’s important to experiment first with low weight objects, before investing into the heavy quilt. If you want you can read this article to get some ideas.
Weighted Blankets and Dementia Patients
Weighted blankets can help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s by easing depression, improving the quality of sleep and reducing anxiety. Alzheimer’s issues can cause a person to become anxious and agitated and have difficulty sleeping.
How weighted blankets work
There are some benefits and drawbacks to weighted blankets for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. The right weight for the person has to be chosen because a blanket which is too heavy can be uncomfortable. On people who are more delicate, it can even cause injuries. So, a weighted blanket for a person who has Alzheimer’s can’t weigh more than twenty-five pounds. It needs to be about 5 to 10 percent of the person’s body weight. Talking to a doctor before purchasing the blanket is essential to see if it is suitable for the person it’s being bought for.
A weighted blanket works because of deep pressure therapy. It makes the person feel calmer, and they fall asleep faster. It also helps for quality naps in the afternoon. The other uses are for patients to help reduce panic attacks and mood swings. It can prevent the person, too, from overthinking about the disease they have.
However, using a weighted blanket on an elderly person has to be done with caution. If the person has a problem with regulating their body temperature, has a circulatory problem or issues with their respiratory system, this blanket isn’t recommended. Plus, some people become irritated when something substantial is placed on their body.
A weighted blanket is designed to be used for restless leg syndrome which is common in adults. Restless leg syndrome is when a person has the urge to move their legs at night because of a creepy crawly sensation. The sensation has also been described as a pins and needles sensation. The weighted blanket feels like it’s giving the legs of the person a hug with the constant firm pressure.
It can also help to relieve the symptoms of anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients and people who suffer from anxiety. The deep pressure application can produce a relaxing and calming sensation. This helps patients with Alzheimer’s relax at night for a more restful and peaceful sleep.
Depression disorders can also be helped with a weighted blanket, in both dementia patients and people who suffer from depression. Since depression can lead to sleep disorders, it can aggravate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. When the weighted blanket is used, patients didn’t move around as much and slept longer. People felt more refreshed in the morning and less depressed because of the night’s sleep. When a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia has improved quality in their sleep, then it reduces the anxiety and eases depression.
Stimulating the senses is a drug-free way to improve the quality of sleep, to calm a person with dementia nerves, and decreases anxiety. There isn’t a treatment which will slow down or stop dementia development that is progressive dementia. But the quality of life improves when the level of care is top quality.
Thinking of getting a weighted blanket for an elderly member in your family? It’s a great option. But before you order one, understand that these are not a one-size-fits-all product. Weighted blankets are therapeutic devices and need to be customized based on the user’s weight, height, medical condition, and personal preferences.
These blankets can be bought from commercial retailers or made at home—but you need to ensure that the fillings are sewn precisely and the weight is equally distributed across the blanket.
As a general rule, the blanket should not weigh more than 10% of the user’s body weight. Getting the right size is critical, especially for people who are physically weak and cannot handle the excessive load. If you feel they might find it challenging to put on or remove the heavy blankets on their own, you can opt for other products in this niche, such as weighted lap pads and vests, that offer similar benefits and are easier to manage.
You can choose from a variety of fabrics including cotton, flannel, mink, satin, or a mix of two, depending on the user’s preference. The filling too can be of different types, such as poly pellets, glass beads, grains, etc. The preferred and safer option is the plastic poly pellets as they don’t cause any allergic reactions (like certain grains), are non-toxic, easier to clean, and feel soft against the body. Again, the filling material can be customized based on your choice.
The fillers in these blankets also serve as a fidget tool. Elderly people especially those with dementia can feel restless and uneasy at certain times of the day. This agitation can be typically seen through their fidgety hands. Whether it is rubbing their hands together, twisting fingers, or just pulling on a piece of cloth, these actions help them re-direct their energy.
Weighted lap pads with poly pellet or beads can provide the much-needed sensory stimulation at such times. Certain fidget toys also work well in keeping their hands in motion and taking the focus away from any distressing situations. You can experiment with different textures and fillers to see which ones are most effective. Avoid objects with sharp edges to prevent injuries.
Weighted products, including lap pads and blankets, can additionally be used when the person is awake. These can be draped across the shoulders or legs just to provide a warm sensory input. This helps in keeping the user calm and in a positive state throughout the day. Older people, in general, are sensitive to colder temperatures. Weighted blankets use layered fabrics and can provide the much-needed warmth to keep them comfortable.
The go-to tool for people with dementia
Dementia in its various forms can be debilitating and hard for the patients and their family members. Since there is no specific cure for this condition, the focus should be on supporting the patient and minimizing the discomfort associated with it. Weighted blankets are a non-drug option that can work effectively with the regular treatment therapies, as directed by your healthcare provider.
There is enough scientific evidence to prove the efficiency of weighted products in dealing with anxiety, sleeplessness, lack of attention, and other symptoms associated with dementia. In many households and caregiver settings, weighted blankets are used as the go-to product when the dementia patients are having a meltdown or difficulty sleeping.
Whether you choose a blanket for a full night’s sleep or a lap pad to keep your loved one comfortable through the day, the investment will be worth it. Regular use of these products can go a long way in improving the quality of life for your loved one and putting a smile back on their face.
As an medical weighted blanket,-weighted blanket, you can bring dreams to different people. It can relieve anxiety and release more and more people from insomnia.