Ways to Stave Off Restless Legs Syndrome in the Elderly

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Many seniors experience restless legs syndrome (RLS), a nervous system disorder characterized by uncomfortable, tingly sensations in the legs. Because these sensations often occur at night, RLS is often classified as a sleep disorder. Ahead, learn more about the best ways to prevent and treat restless legs syndrome in the elderly. 

Know the Causes

To prevent or treat RLS, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place. For some seniors, the condition is primarily genetic. About 50 percent of people with the condition have a parent or sibling who experiences it as well. RLS can also be brought on by certain medications. If your senior loved one starts exhibiting signs of the condition after switching prescriptions, check to see whether it is a side effect of the new medication. RLS has been linked to allergy medications, antidepressants, and anti-nausea drugs. It can also be brought on by excessive alcohol consumption and prolonged sleep deprivation. If your loved one understands what triggers the RLS, he or she may be able to mitigate the symptoms. Help your loved one keep a journal chronicling the condition, noting when the symptoms are most severe, and try to identify what triggered them. Triggers can range from excess sugar consumption to inadequate sleep. 

If your loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of home care. Des Moines Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

To prevent RLS, it’s important for seniors to make healthy lifestyle choices. Regular exercise reduces unpleasant leg sensations, as does limiting caffeine intake, especially before bedtime. Seniors who experience symptoms primarily at night should strive to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even if the condition wakes your loved one up at night, going to bed and waking up at consistent hours every day can keep the condition from worsening. 

Explore Medication Options

If your loved one receives an RLS diagnosis from the doctor, there are medication options that may prove helpful. Dopaminergic drugs, which are frequently prescribed for seniors with RLS, normalize dopamine levels in the brain. Benzodiazepines are another option. These sedative drugs can help seniors get restful sleep at night. For severe cases, doctors may prescribe anti-seizure drugs, which control leg movement. 

Managing the symptoms and medication of restless legs syndrome can be overwhelming for family caregivers. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior loved one in Des Moines, respite care is available when you need time away from your important caregiving duties. At Home Care Assistance, our respite caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help your loved one manage everyday tasks in the comfort of home while you have the chance to take a much-needed break.

Take Iron Supplements

Another common cause of RLS is iron deficiency. For some seniors, this manifests as an iron deficiency throughout the body. For others, the iron deficiency is exclusive to the brain. In such cases, iron supplementation can minimize the symptoms of RLS. 

Consider Non-Drug Treatments and Preventative Measures

While many seniors with RLS treat it with prescription drugs or healthy lifestyle choices, there are several other options. Some seniors have success with weekly leg massages, while others prefer hot baths. Seniors can also apply ice packs or heating pads to the affected areas or use a vibrating pad to relieve the tension. When getting ready for bed, many seniors wrap their legs, which can keep them from jerking in the middle of the night.

Receiving professional in-home care can help many aging adults manage the symptoms of restless legs syndrome. When searching for reliable Des Moines senior care agencies, families want to know their senior loved one will be well taken care of. At Home Care Assistance, our expertly trained caregivers are available around the clock to assist with tasks around the house, provide transportation to medical appointments and social events, and much more. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (515) 264-2438 today.

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