Weighted blankets for seniors are a good idea just as they are for the rest of the population, and mainly for the same reasons, but with some cautions.
Issues like sleep, restlessness, depression, general aches and pains, and anxiety can all increase in the elderly compared to the rest of the population. These are all areas where a weighted blanket might bring relief and comfort.
The deep touch pressure (DTP) of a weighted blanket that contributes to the production of more serotonin can help with all of the conditions mentioned above and provide better rest and sleep.
Sleep, the Elderly, and a Weighted Blanket
According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of the people in long term care facilities suffer from sleep issues.
Many of them take medications and their rest is disrupted by conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Getting enough quality sleep at night is a challenge for many seniors.
Seniors Need Naps
And according to the Harvard Medical School, the elderly need naps to offset the effects of sleep deprivation during the night.
As long as they don’t interfere with sleep in the night, naps can be an excellent way to boost alertness and focus. 20-40 minutes is the recommended length, depending on individual needs.
Weighted Blankets are Good for Sleep and Naps
A weighted blanket can be a natural aid in the nighttime for better sleep and during the day to help with naps to regain rest and restore calmness.
A Weighted Blanket for Restless Leg Syndrome in Older People
Restless Leg Syndrome (also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease) is a condition where the sufferer experiences sensations like tingling and pins and needles in the legs, plus the uncontrollable urge to move them.
As you can well imagine, this irritating condition would be very disruptive to anyone trying to get adequate sleep at night.
Many People Have Restless Leg Syndrome
According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, up to 7-10 percent of Americans have this condition.
It typically increases in severity at night and is usually most severe in middle-aged and elderly people. This condition affects quality sleep and can contribute to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.
Some people find the pressure of a weighted blanket helps to hug the legs and keep them still for better sleep, also relieving the disruptive sensations.
A Weighted Blanket for Anxiety and Depression in Seniors
Anxiety and depression can be just as common among the elderly as any other age group, so it needs to be considered in their overall care.
Anxiety Is Common in Elderly
Anxiety was sometimes thought to be less because of greater emphasis on physical concerns in the aging population. Conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia can also contribute to anxiety levels in the elderly.
The calming effect of a weighted blanket can make an excellent natural method for comforting seniors at any time of the day or night.
They can use them on their beds at night or as a covering for naps in the daytime, or even as a wrap when they’re sitting.
Cautions for Using a Weighted Blanket with Seniors
Even though a senior can use a weighted blanket the same as anyone else and benefit from the deep touch pressure, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Weighted Blankets Should Not be Restrictive
You must be certain that the blanket is not restrictive. Older people often lose some of their strength and agility, so it’s very important to make sure they can get underneath and out from under a weighted blanket on their own.
They should always have complete control of using the blanket and moving it around or throwing it off.
The Blanket Must Be Accepted
They should also be monitored to ensure that the feeling of the blanket is not distressing. They must be accepting of the weight and derive comfort from the weighted blanket or it will serve no purpose.
Be Cautious with Weak Bones
Another thing to bear in mind is that some older people develop weaker bones as they age, sometimes to the point where they break easily.
The effort to move under a weighted blanket could be enough to cause a fracture if their bone density has deteriorated too much.
Take Care with Sensitivities
You’ll also want to be careful of sensitivities or allergies. If the senior has these concerns, some manufacturers use organic materials and hypoallergenic glass beads for weight. Research the products to find the best choice.
Finally, we do not provide medical advice. Check with a physician before using one of these products with a senior.
It’s important to determine that it has the potential to comfort them and not cause any physical or emotional concerns.
Try a Weighted Lap Pad
If a full-sized weighted blanket is not suitable for use with an elderly person, you could try using a weighted lap pad instead.
Weighted lap pads are like a small weighted blanket that rests on the lap of an individual when they’re seated. But they can provide many of the same comforting benefits as a full size weighted blanket.
Some seniors spend a fair amount of time sitting, so a weighted lap pad is perfect to lay across their lap while they are resting in a chair.
It’s less weight than a regular weighted blanket and they can likely manage it quite easily on their own.
A Weighted Blanket Gift for a Senior
Weighted blankets make an excellent gift idea for a senior that is still independent at home or one who lives in a care facility.
If you can’t find an idea for a present, consider one of these or a lap pad to bring them comfort and good rest.
If you have a friend or relative who is older and you feel might benefit from one of these products, check out the two reviews highlighted below. It’s a great idea for birthdays and Christmas.
They also make a thoughtful gift for any time, and they’re a nice thing to donate to a care facility in memory of a loved one if you want to remember them that way.
We have reviews of the two popular weighted blankets that make the top of our list. The Degrees of Comfort product is the one we chose for our son, and YnM is a top-rated manufacturer, too:
Weighted blankets for seniors can be as beneficial as for anyone else. Just keep in mind there are a few cautions when you use them for this segment of the population.