My 87 year old mother sleeps most of the day. She is relatively aware of her surroundings and not in poor health, but she seems to have great difficulty staying awake. Why is this, and are there any treatment options that can make her less sleepy in her final years?
Doctors Answers (3)
She could have Sleep Apnea (obstructive or central), periodic limb movements of sleep, or Idiopathic Hypersomnia. She should have a complete physical with blood work by her primary care doctor. Next would be a sleep consult with a board certified specialist, who may then order an all night sleep test followed perhaps by a multiple sleep latency test or maintenance of wakefulness test. If nothing is found to explain her sleepiness then a mild dose of a stimulant medication may be in order.
This question is really a question of the correct diagnosis. Excessive daytime sleepiness could be from an underlying sleep disorder, a certain medication or a medical condition among other things - so the best answer to your question is to have your mother evaluated by a physician and establish diagnosis to decide on the best management plan.
It's hard to know what is causing her sleepiness without interviewing her and completing a consultation. Sleepiness during the day can indicate less than refreshing sleep during the night. Once you identify a sleep disorder then there are specific standards of treatment.