Could My Elderly Mom Have Sleep Apnea?
Have you noticed your elderly mother’s erratic breathing during sleep? Perhaps you’ve heard her snoring, snorting and struggling for breath in the night. If so, she may be dealing with one of the most common sleep disorders among Americans—sleep apnea. While this condition may not seem like a serious health issue, the facts are that sleep apnea can lead to negative health issues in the elderly.
What Exactly is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea covers a range of breathing issues during sleep and it is quite common in aging adults who are 65 and older. When people are sleeping, the soft tissues in the throat, mouth, and nose relax and often close. This blocks normal breathing, causing snoring as the air is forced past the tissues. At times, the aging adult has the airways blocked completely and they stop breathing for several seconds. With a snort or gasp, they resume their breathing.
Usually, the senior doesn’t notice it is happening as they are asleep. Most often, family caregivers, elder care providers or spouses observe the erratic breathing and airway obstruction.
How is Sleep Apnea Harmful to Seniors?
Every time the aging adult stops breathing, it’s difficult for oxygen to enter the lungs and then the bloodstream. This reduced oxygen leads to stress in the internal organs. Because this interrupted breathing happens anywhere from five to ten times in an hour, it means ongoing stress and gradual damage to the body.
Seniors eventually experience health problems like fatigue, headaches, irritability, dry mouth, high blood pressure, and weight gain. Sleep apnea has also been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular health problems, depression, stroke, diabetes, and early death. Instead of overlooking the symptoms of snoring, snorting and gasping during a loved one’s sleep, family caregivers and elder care providers need to make an appointment with their doctor.
How Do Doctors Treat Sleep Apnea?
A doctor will examine the elderly adult for any medical issues, and then launch a series of sleep tests. Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, elderly adults can begin treatments designed to boost their quality of sleep. Seniors who are dependent on family caregivers and elder care providers will again need their help to deal with sleep apnea.
The most common treatment is for seniors to use a device called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or CPAP. It’s a mask that covers the elderly adult’s nose and mouth and it gently blows air into the body during sleep. It can feel a little awkward at first and seniors will need the help of family caregivers and elder care providers in positioning it and turning it on. However, the results are dramatic, and seniors often feel better within a few days of using the CPAP.
If your elderly mother really does have sleep issues that center on erratic breathing and frequent bursts of gasping and snorting, it may be sleep apnea. Don’t hesitate to get her to the doctor so that she can once again gain the benefits of a deep and restful sleep.
If you are considering Homecare in Easton, CT for a senior loved one, please contact the caring staff at Executive Home Care in Stratford CT. Executive Care is operated by individuals who have dedicated their lives to providing quality in-home care services. Call today: 203-690-1963.Back