Martin used to fall asleep easily and sleep soundly. But, now, at age 73, he was having trouble getting to sleep because his legs felt strange at night.
He lay in bed feeling like he’d go crazy if he didn’t move his legs. When he told his daughter, Melanie, about the problem, she suggested he see a doctor. Martin learned that he had a condition called restless leg syndrome, or RLS. It’s a common condition that affects up to 10 percent of adults in the United States. Understanding more about the condition can make it easier for family caregivers to offer the best possible care to their aging relatives.
RLS can start at any time in a person’s life, but it usually gets worse as they get older. As in Martin’s case, it can make sleeping difficult, which can make the person feel tired the next day. Tiredness can make it hard to go about their regular daily activities.
The main symptom of RLS is the uncontrollable need to move the legs. Other characteristics of RLS include:
- The feelings usually start when the person has been resting, either lying down or sitting still for a while.
- Symptoms are relieved by moving, such as by wiggling the legs, walking, or stretching.
- The feelings mostly happen at night.
- The person may experience leg twitches during the night.
Causes of RLS
Most of the time, doctors don’t know what causes RLS. Sometimes it runs in families, making it a hereditary condition. In those cases, it typically begins before the age of 40. There is also some evidence that RLS is linked to a dopamine imbalance. Dopamine is a chemical that helps to control muscle movement.
Although the exact cause of RLS isn’t known, there are some known risk factors that make developing it more likely. Some of the risk factors are:
- Iron deficiency.
- Peripheral neuropathy.
- Kidney failure.
- Conditions of the spinal cord.
- Doctors have also determined that some medications can make the symptoms of RLS worse. Some of them are:
- Anti-nausea medications.
- Anti-psychotic medications.
- Medications used to treat depression.
- Some cold and allergy medicines.
If your aging relative suffers from RLS, some lifestyle changes can help to ease the symptoms.
Elder care can help seniors to make those changes. Elder care providers can help seniors to get more exercise, which has been shown to ease the symptoms. They can go for walks with the older adult or drive them to an exercise class. Leg massages may also help, which is something elder care providers can do for seniors. Elder care providers can also assist the older adult to take a warm bath or use hot and cold packs to reduce symptoms.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Homecare in Westfield, IN, please call the caring staff at Home Services Unlimited. Serving Greater Indianapolis Area. Call for Immediate Info & Assistance: (317) 471-0760