Sleep disturbances are common among people living with dementia, with consequences far reaching for the person, their carers and care systems. Sleep disturbances result in decreased quality of life for the person with dementia and cause significant stress for caregivers. Additionally, sleep disturbances are associated with increased admissions to care settings and healthcare costs. As such, sleep disturbances for people living with dementia are recognised as a major challenge that requires addressing. Nonpharmacological interventions are prioritised for the treatment of sleep disturbances; however, medication is frequently used, with a range of risks (including increased falls and confusion). Currently there is no gold standard sleep intervention for people with dementia. The use of weighted blankets is emerging as a safe sleep intervention option, although little is known about the effectiveness for people with dementia. This research seeks to generate evidence and recommendations to improve sleep outcomes for people with dementia living in a range of settings. A staged investigation will be conducted to 1) examine the effectiveness of weighted blankets as a sleep intervention for people with dementia; 2) understand the barriers and facilitators to use of weighted blankets; and 3) co-design a plan for future implementation across a range of settings.
Dr Suzanne Dawson is a Practitioner Fellow in the Caring Futures Institute, Flinders University and works in clinical practice as Principal Occupational Therapist for Southern Adelaide Local Health Network mental health services.