Sleep Apnea, Seniors and Elderly Care

Sleep apnea is very common in elderly people over the age of 65. Your elderly loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea and it would be hard to tell. However, the more you know about sleep apnea in seniors—the risk factors, symptoms and treatments—the more educated you will be in recognizing whether they need your help. When you pull together a winning team of family members, friends, doctors and elderly care providers, your aging relative can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea from their lives.

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Seniors

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing during sleep for short periods of time, several times per hour. The reduction in oxygen intake is very stressful on the body, especially in elderly adults. Seniors who are smokers, overweight, loud snorers or have a family history of sleep apnea are most at risk.

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring and long moments of silence while sleeping. Other common symptoms include gasping during sleep, moaning and turning and waking up frequently. There are even symptoms you can look for in the daytime, such as headaches, dry mouth, sore throat, irritability, mood swings and unusual sleepiness. Other family members, friends or an elderly care provider may also notice these symptoms and report to you.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea in Seniors

The doctor will examine your elderly loved one and suggest several sleep tests This could include sending home a monitoring device for your relative to wear as they sleep that measures oxygen saturation. Some seniors may also be referred to a sleep clinic for similar tests. Once the doctor rules out other causes and looks at the data gathered from the sleep tests, they will prescribe a treatment plan that you and the elderly care provider need to help the elderly adult to follow.

There are a number of different sleep apnea treatments that your aging relative may need to implement. Some of the treatments for mild sleep apnea include elevating the head and shoulders while sleeping, wearing a mouth guard device that helps keep airways open, sleeping on the side instead of the back and sleeping with a humidifier to keep the soft tissues moist.

More intensive treatments include sleeping with a CPAP machine, which is like a face mask attached to a machine that gently blows air into the mouth and nose during sleep to keep the airways open. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to correct closed air passages. Elderly adults will definitely need the help of their elderly care provider to ensure they are doing everything they need to avoid sleep apnea.

Elderly care providers are a key part in your elderly loved one’s journey toward better sleep and fewer related health issues. Since most seniors will be on a sleep apnea treatment for the rest of their lives, the elderly care provider must incorporate sleep apnea support into their daily duties as they provide care.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Lansing, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.