Recently there has been an increasing amount of information available about weighted blankets and the impact that they are having on children with sensory issues, autism, and anxiety. It has also been discovered that people of all ages, with no specific diagnosis, are also benefiting by reducing stress, anxiety and improving sleep quality. Did you know that weighted blankets can also help our elderly?
It can be difficult caring for an aging parent or family member. If you are currently in this position this article will help you decide if they may benefit from a weighted blanket. You may just discover something that can greatly improve their quality of life.
What is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets have been used for decades in the medical and mental health fields before being introduced to the general public. A weighted blanket is fitted with dozens of evenly quilted pockets filled with poly beads, sand, glass beads, even matierials such as buckwheat or dry rice. The weight is evenly distributed across the blanket and the blanket is much heavier than a regular blanket or comforter.
Weighted blankets simulate the sensation of being swaddled or hugged. They provide deep pressure touch stimulation which in turn triggers the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and melatonin and simultaneously decrease stress hormones such as cortisol. The result is lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, relaxation, stress relief and an overall feeling of calm and safety.
Weighted Blankets for the Elderly
Over the past decade, studies have shown that weighted blankets are an effective tool for people suffering from anxiety, sensory processing issues, sleeplessness, post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental and physical conditions and challenges. Nowadays, even people who simply want to experience a better night’s rest are benefiting from the comfort and calming effects of a weighted blanket.
Our elderly loved ones often face one or more of the challenges listed above and can benefit from using a weighted blanket. It is common that they deal with anxiety in their daily lives, stemming from illness or loss, loneliness and fear. When our seniors are suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, they often feel agitated, anxious, or have disturbed sleep. While weighted blankets cannot take the place of necessary medications and therapies, their use as a complimentary therapy can greatly increase the quality of life of an elderly parent or family member. A weighted blanket is a simple, drug-free option that can be used any time day or night to reduce anxiety, calm nerves, provide comfort, and promote deep sleep.
When NOT to Use One
When seniors have serious medical conditions, we recommend asking a doctor if a weighted blanket is safe for them to use.
People with respiratory, circulatory, or temperature regulation problems may not be able to use a weighted blanket. It may also not be safe when recovering from surgery.
How Heavy Should The Blanket Be?
The weight of the blanket depends on the elderly adult’s weight and physical condition.
Typically, the blanket weight for adults is between 15 and 25 pounds. The standard guideline is that the blanket should be 10% of the adult’s body weight, plus 1 or 2 pounds. If the senior adult is frail, then you will likely need to lower that estimate to 5 – 10%. For example, if the weight of your senior is 150lb, then consider a blanket between 7 – 15 pounds.
Always check with your senior’s doctor before getting a weighted blanket. Overall, there are few reasons why a senior should avoid using a weighted blanket for reduced stress, comfort, and relaxation. However, there may be issues if they have circulation or respiratory problems or struggle to regulate their body temperature.
Elderly people with sleep disorders, anxiety, nervous system disorders or any other condition that may benefit from deep pressure touch should try a weighted blanket to see if there is any improvement.
Therapy Disguised as a Gift
Often times, as adults, we don't like to admit that we are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping. This is no different for our beloved seniors. If you suspect that this could be the case consider sending a weighted blanket as a gift. The comforting effect of a weighted blanket may be just the ticket to send a “hug” when you can’t be right there to wrap your arms around them and is sure to become a treasured gift.
For more information about weighted blankets, you can visit www.bluehillsleepco.ca. Feel free to contact us through our Contact Us form as well.