A weighted blanket for the elderly can have many benefits. Quality sleep is an essential aspect of life and mental health, especially for seniors.
We all need quality sleep to be able to function optimally, leave healthier lives, and have the best performance at work. However, the older we get, the more sleep tends to elude us.
If you are an elderly person or take care of one, then you know how difficult it can be to sleep properly.
According to research, elderly people tend to have lesser REM sleep. And considering the great importance of REM sleep, getting little sleep can pose serious health risks to these individuals.
More so, lack of enough sleep leaves the elderly feeling fatigued throughout the day, making their lives boring and unhappy.
The good news is, that there is a way that seniors can get the relaxing sleep that they need: by using weighted blankets. Weighted blankets have been proven to be very beneficial for individuals dealing with insomnia, especially the elderly ones. These blankets make it easier for seniors to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Yet, weighted blankets are more than just ‘sleeping aids.’ These blankets have many more advantages to offer their users. In this article, we discuss how weighted blankets work, what makes them ideal blankets for seniors, as well as seven major benefits that these blankets offer to seniors and the aged. Read along!
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Weighted blankets have become a trending topic in the market recently. So what makes these blankets very popular?
Unlike regular blankets, weighted blankets provide equal pressure all over the body of the individual. This pressure can be compared to a warm hug that soothes and relaxes the sleeper.
The deep pressure provided by the blankets stimulates the release of three improtant body chemicals:
➢ Serotonin – A neurotransmitter that works to stabilize and alleviate your moods.
➢ Oxytocin – also commonly termed as the feel-good hormone.
➢ Melatonin – A hormone that promotes faster and better sleep.
The above-mentioned chemicals offer numerous therapeutic benefits for the elderly. Benefits that even most medications cannot achieve. For example, they help you reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, promote better sleep and relaxation.
It is no wonder that most doctors and caregivers highly recommend weighted blankets to all senior people.
Weighted Blanket Benefits for the Elderly
Weighted blankets for adults help to relieve symptoms of insomnia, promoting better, more relaxing sleep among the elderly.
When seniors get enough sleep, they improve their overall health, get enough rest, and have more fulfilling lives.
These blankets have more to offer than just preventing insomnia among the elderly. Consider the following additional weighted blanket benefits for the elderly:
1. Relieve Dementia
According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, approximately 13.9% of people aged 71 years and above suffer from a particular form of dementia. In fact, the prevalence of dementia increases even more dramatically in individuals aged 90 years and older.
Dementia causes very troubling symptoms, especially in elderly people. For example, it leads to increased anxiety, stress and depression. These conditions not only make it harder for these individuals to sleep but also lead to unhappy, stressful lives.
Most elderly people who suffer from dementia opt for over-the-counter medications to help relieve their symptoms. However, while these medications do provide relief to some degree, they also come with associated side effects and negative reactions. Still, this doesn’t mean that elderly people should do nothing to ease their symptoms.
One natural solution that helps individuals with dementia is sleeping with a weighted blanket for the elderly. Elderly people who suffer from dementia tend to feel unsettled, and uncomfortable and get agitated very easily, especially during the nighttime.
Such feelings make it harder for the seniors to fall asleep, such that they remain awake for the most time during the night. These seniors are usually provided with weighted blankets to help them fall asleep much faster.
The deep pressure touch of the blankets makes the dementia patients feel more relaxed, such that they remain comfortable all through the day and night.
2. Reduce Stress Levels
Factors such as busy work schedules, raising kids and daily hustles of life cause us a lot of stress and anxiety. So, since retired seniors do not go to work or get deeply involved in raising kids, this means that they do not experience any stress or anxiety, right? Wrong.
Proven research shows that people aged 85 years and above experience even more stress than those in other age groups! Why is that so? Well, first, seniors usually experience increasing sensors that result from their ever-dwindling social relations. Also, most elderly people suffer from deteriorating physical abilities, chronic illnesses, and declining health; conditions that cause them additional stress and anxiety.
Weighted blankets for the elderly provide therapeutic pressure which reduces physiological symptoms of stress, such as elevated levels of pulse oximetry, blood pressure, electrodermal activity, and pulse rate. These blankets provide acts as a calming modality for seniors, making them feel less stressed, anxious and depressed.
3. Ease Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome causes a person to feel an irresistible urge to move their legs and tends to get worse during the evening hours and throughout the night.
While the condition can affect any person in any age group, it is highly prevalent among elderly people. In fact, research shows that 10-35% of people over 65 years suffer from the syndrome.
The ‘crawly sensation’ (or a feeling of ‘pins and needles on the legs as other people describe) caused by restless leg syndrome makes sleep quite hard to come by. After all, while the symptoms can occur at any time during the day, the strongest and most uncomfortable symptoms usually flare up at night, just before bedtime.
There are different natural solutions to relieving restless leg syndrome. One effective method is using a weighted blanket for restless legs. These special blankets provide equal, deep pressure all over the body, which helps to calm the nerves and ease symptoms of RLS.
The pressure provided is firm and consistent, such that it feels like a tight hug around the legs. Also, the downward weight delivered helps to ease the ‘pin’ and ‘needle’ sensations experienced on the legs. In turn, this eases the restless leg symptoms, allowing the elderly individuals to enjoy a faster, deeper and more restful sleeping experience.
4. Help Fight Depression
Depression does not choose any particular age; the condition strikes any person regardless of their gender or group. Fortunately, a higher percentage of older people do not suffer from depression.
However, as per statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1-5% of the elderly population are affected by depression. And among these depression patients, 11.5% are older hospital patients while 13.5% require special home healthcare.
Depression among the elderly poses risks to other health conditions, such as insomnia, stress and anxiety. Constant sleep insomnia, in turn, could lead to more health complications that affect the emotional, mental and physical well-being of depressed seniors. For example, insomnia among the elderly has been known to cause feelings of burnout, psychosomatic addictions and disorders.
Weighted blankets provide a deep pressure touch therapy that calms users, making them feel less stressed and anxious.
Depressed elderly individuals who use these blankets agree that they sleep faster and for longer periods, waking up feeling very relaxed and refreshed. Besides, weighted blankets help to fight off depression by improving the moods of the depressed and making it much easier for them to settle down.
5. Help Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive mental deterioration that affects the cognitive abilities of an individual, including their memory and behavior.
The risk of developing this irreversible brain disorder increases with age. This is because the molecules involved in spreading the disease (tau-proteins) spread much more easily in aging brains.
Among the elderly, Alzheimer’s disease impairs their ability to perform daily tasks, even simple tasks such as dressing and ensuring personal hygiene. Also, the condition makes seniors more susceptible to developing other health conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety.
Alzheimer’s has no known cure. However, using weighted blankets has been known to help seniors manage the system symptoms. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety levels, weighted blankets for the elderly ease depression and promote more comfortable among the users. Also, the blankets help to improve sleep quality among Alzheimer’s disease patients, ensuring that they always get enough rest every day.
6. Reduce Symptoms of Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis leads to the wearing off of cartilage between the bones. Not only does this condition cause the joints to inflame, but it also leads to pain, swelling and stiffness of bones. And this condition worsens with time since the cartilage usually deteriorates as people age.
The pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis usually make it quite difficult for seniors to carry out normal daily activities, as they can barely move a lot. Also, the reduced range of motion keeps most seniors up at night, such that they get reduced sleep quality every night.
The less sleep the individuals get, the worse the arthritis pain, swelling, and inflammation can become. In turn, the increased pain causes the seniors to toss and turn throughout the night, creating an unhealthy vicious cycle.
As has been mentioned in the already discussed benefits, weighted blankets for the elderly help to improve the quality of sleep. Besides making it much easier for arthritis patients to fall asleep, the blankets also ensure that users stay asleep all through the night without tossing and turning around.
As they sleep, the seniors experience fewer symptoms of arthritis. Also, getting enough quality sleep helps to improve the immune system of the elderly, such that they experience less pain, swelling, stiffness and other associated symptoms of arthritis.
7. Relieve Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that greatly reduces a person’s movement. The condition includes symptoms such as minor hand tremors, bodily stiffness, reduced speed and body movement.
Parkinson’s disease leads to decreased levels of dopamine in the body. Lower dopamine levels mean low happier moods for the patients, making it easier for them to fall into depression and anxiety attacks. In turn, the constant anxiety could lead to insomnia, keeping the seniors awake for the most part or the night.
Furthermore, Parkinson’s disease has symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; the patients usually experience pain and stiffness in bones. And it goes without saying that falling and staying asleep while experiencing bodily pain is almost close to impossible.
Considering all that weighted blankets can do, we can conclude that these are perfect for seniors suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
These blankets help to boost the sensory processing activities of the nervous system, which alleviates stress and anxiety. Also, weighted blankets for the elderly ease the pain and stiffness associated with Parkinson’s disease, making it easier for seniors to fall and stay asleep.
What Makes the Best Weighted Blanket for the Elderly?
Weighted blankets have more weight than regular blankets. The lighter weighted blankets weigh approximately 5 pounds, while the heavier ones weigh 20 pounds or more.
However, contrary to what most people think, heavier weighted blankets do not necessarily mean more benefits for the users.
Therefore, when choosing a weighted blanket for the elderly, don’t go for a blanket just because it weighs heavier than others. You do not want your loved one to feel restrained by adding too much weight to their body.
Also, very heavy blankets could pin the weaker seniors in bed, causing them to panic and feel more anxious.
To avoid all that, always go for weighted blankets that are moderately heavy, ideally around 10% of the body weight, or simply use our heavy blanket weight calculator.
Finally, for the weaker and sick seniors, choose lighter weighted blankets that won’t restrain them or make it difficult for them to move around while in bed.
We all want to age gracefully and in a dignified manner. However, aging won’t be a graceful process if you do not check on your health. And while the risk of developing poor health conditions increases as we age, maintaining good health is not an impossible task.
Weighted blankets offer numerous health benefits to the elderly. They improve the quality of sleep, reduce symptoms of dementia, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and can also provide an anti-anxiety effect.
By so doing, they help to improve the overall health of the elderly, ensuring that they age gracefully and happily as they fully deserve!