Most people spend a quarter of their lives asleep, and it is so important for a healthy body and mind. Deep and restful sleep is a healthy habit, but too many elderly adults are not able to get that at an age when they need most of all. Sleep apnea is a common condition that interrupts a person’s breathing while they sleep, reducing oxygen and stressing the body.
As a family caregiver, you need to pay attention to whether your elderly loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea so you can get them the help they need.
Sleep Apnea Basics
When the soft tissues in the throat, mouth and nasal passages relax too much, it can block the flow of air while sleeping. This causes snoring in mild cases, but for many seniors, they stop breathing for several seconds. With sleep apnea, the interrupted breathing cuts off oxygen flow to the body from a few times to several dozen times per hour.
Those at risk include seniors who are overweight, facial paralysis, large neck circumference, drinking alcohol before bedtime, and a history of snoring. Without treatment, seniors are more likely to develop health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and premature death. Too many family caregivers don’t realize their elderly loved one has sleep apnea, leaving them undiagnosed for years.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
It’s possible for elderly adults to live with sleep apnea for years, thinking they are just prone to snoring. Family caregivers and senior care providers that aren’t familiar with sleep apnea may not notice the symptoms and warning signs as they care for the aging person. It’s especially important for family caregivers and senior care providers to identify symptoms in seniors because it’s too easy to attribute it to lethargy, illness or dementia due to age.
The main symptoms of sleep apnea in seniors include labored snoring, dry mouth, daytime fatigue, lack of concentration, frequent awakening in the night, headaches and mood swings. If family caregivers and senior care aides see any of these symptoms frequently in the elderly person, they should arrange for a visit to the doctor for sleep testing.
Managing Sleep Apnea in Seniors
No matter what age, the body needs restful and restorative sleep to be healthy. Family caregivers and senior care providers that suspect an aging adult has sleep apnea need to see a doctor right away. The doctor will set up a series of sleep tests to diagnose the condition. Generally, the elderly person sleeps with a device that monitors them and records data.
Once the doctor gets a good idea of the senior’s sleep apnea factors, they will recommend sleeping devices like air machines to help improve breathing. They will also suggest lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to create larger airways. With the support of the doctor, family caregivers and senior care providers, elderly adults with sleep apnea can once again have restful sleep for optimum health.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Glenview IL, call the caring staff at LifeCare Home Health & In-Home Services. Call (888) 606-4199 LifeCare serves all of the Chicago Metro Area.
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