Sleep Apnea in the Elderly

Sleep Apnea in the Elderly

Sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans and families. For family caregivers struggling to balance duties at home with a career, providing the necessary level of care throughout the night can be difficult, if not impossible to manage. Learn how sleep apnea affects seniors and where to find respite care to restore peace of mind for families during the night.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes an interruption of breathing throughout the night – sometimes lasting nearly a minute or longer. Individuals with sleep apnea often experience frequent cessation of breathing throughout the night; shallow breathing; loud snoring followed by an abrupt awakening; fatigue throughout the day; and dry mouth or headaches in the morning.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea.

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea, caused by a blockage in the airways. During sleep, muscles in the throat and tongue relax (sometimes collapsing) causing a blockage in the airway.

2. Central Sleep Apnea

A less common type of sleep apnea that occurs when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing.

3. Mixed Sleep Apnea

With mixed sleep apnea, patients often experience long periods of obstructive sleep apnea, followed by brief periods of central sleep apnea.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a number of ailments, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, vehicle or work-related accidents (caused by lack of sleep), and depression.

Weight loss, nasal decongestants, surgery, and certain lifestyle changes are effective ways to treat sleep apnea; however, the only definitive way to diagnose and treat the condition is through a sleep study and medical follow up. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, consult a medical professional.

The following tips can be used by patients and family caregivers alike to promote healthy sleep habits:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Nearly 70% of sleep apnea patients are overweight. Weight loss and management has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, helping to not only treat but prevent many sleep disorders.
  • If exercising in the evening, avoid doing so 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol and caffeine before bed.
  • Do not eat large meals at least 3 hours prior to bedtime.
  • Eliminate distractions in the bedroom (including televisions, computers, telephones, bright lights, etc.)
  • Maintain a consistent sleep pattern throughout the week and avoid long naps during the day.
  • To avoid obstruction of the airways (for sleep apnea patients), change the position at which you sleep (ex: sleep on your side rather than your back).

Contact Sonas for Home Health Care Services

For those juggling many roles (family caregiver, professional and parent), being on watch throughout the night can be difficult – and often times impossible. For many, consulting the help of a home health care professional may be the best option.

Sonas Home Health Care can help bring families peace of mind. We refer loving and competent caregivers to provide respite care throughout the night, from a few hours to around-the-clock care.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.