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Alzheimer's Disease

Excessive Sleep and Alzheimer's Disease

11/12/2007

Question:

Hello. My 90 year old mum has Alzheimers dementia. She has been on aricept 5mg for 2 years She has gone through many stages, ie: angry, forgetful, erratic behavior, repeating everything, depression, crying, etc etc, all of which was worrying and heart breaking. All these things seem to have calmed right down, thankfully, but that is also worrying as suddenly all my dear mum wants to do is stay in bed and sleep, sleep, sleep, and quite happy and content to do so.

This has no effect on her sleeping at nighttime. I am more than happy to leave her to sleep, but am I doing the right thing, and, why is this happening? There has been no medication change. Is it simply because of her age or a decline in the a/d? Hoping you can settle my worrying mind on this question as you have on many other questions.

Answer:

Hard to say what is going on here. Is she ill in any other way? Urinary tract infection? If she can tolerate it, Aricept could be increased to 10 mg a day. This may help with some alertness. Try increasing pleasurable activities in the daytime. If it is the disease, occasionally we use Ritalin (low dose) or other psychostimulants in the morning to help with excessive daytime somnolence.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University