What can be done when your loved one regularly wakes at 4 a.m. and falls trying to get up? -Jim A.

First, try to determine why they are getting up. Are they done sleeping and ready to start their day? Or, are they waking because of a need, such as having to go to the bathroom? The trouble with dementia is that they won’t remember from one night to another that they need help to get up. They just respond automatically as they have their whole lives. Our challenge is to try to anticipate their needs in an effort to divert falls and other unpleasant outcomes. You might try leaving them a reminder note where they will see it to call for you. Perhaps you can set an alarm to wake before they do. Maybe waking them to go to the bathroom before you go to bed would postpone that next trip.  If they are able to navigate the trip by day, possibly a nightlight would help, or a bedside commode. Take a look at the environment to see what obstacles might be in their way, and move anything that could cause them an injury if they fall and hit it. Make sure they are wearing skid-proof socks and have a walker within reach if they need one.

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