How To Effectively Care For The Aging With Sleep Apnea Now

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6 months ago

Aging with sleep apnea

 

Aging with sleep apnea is a severe condition that occurs when an individual stops breathing for a few moments while sleeping. The concern is that your loved one can stop breathing several times at night. The drop in breathing lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Which usually resumes after the person makes a choking sound or snorts loudly. The peculiar sound occurs when your loved one gasps for air to resume breathing. Such a problem often goes undiagnosed in older people because it seems like a snoring problem.
It can profoundly affect the quality of life of our seniors. It makes them feel tired after they get up. This makes it difficult to carry on with their tasks and impedes their ability to lead everyday life. When diagnosed at the right time, it can be successfully treated. They are allowing our elderly loved ones to lead a comfortable life.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

 

Before diving into caregiving strategies, it’s crucial to understand what sleep apnea is. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. These interruptions can lead to poor sleep quality, daytime fatigue, and severe health issues like cardiovascular problems if left untreated.

Types of sleep apnea

 

Obstructive
This is the most typical form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles and tissues in the air passage and throat relax during sleep. This causes the airflow to the lungs to either slow down or stop.
Central
This type causes a communication failure between the brain and the muscles that control our breathing. Certain medical conditions, medications, obesity, and heart failure can cause central sleep apnea. It is more common in men than women. Also, elderly suffering from atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Are at an increased risk of developing central sleep apnea.
Mixed
As the name suggests, it combines obstructive and central sleep apnea. Therefore, sometimes, it is also referred to as complex sleep apnea. Treatment for mixed sleep apnea seems to be a bit more complicated than the other two forms.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Recognizing sleep apnea symptoms as a caregiver is the first step in providing adequate care. Common signs of aging with sleep apnea include loud snoring, abrupt awakenings accompanied by choking or gasping, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. If you notice these signs in your aging loved one, it’s essential to consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

Symptoms

 

Some of the common symptoms experienced by our elderly are below:
Improper sleep throughout the night
Waking up to be feeling tired
Restlessness, characterized by tossing and turning in bed
Night Sweats
Snoring, which is pretty loud and frequent
Fatigue
Feeling tired upon waking up
A headache on waking up, which usually occurs due to improper oxygen in the blood
Irritability and depression, along with anxiety
Swelling in the leg

Secondary complications of sleep apnea

 

When left untreated, sleep apnea can make life a mess for our elderly. Recognizing the early signs and getting treatment started is the right idea. Sleep apnea not only affects the quality of nighttime sleep. But also gives way to the development of several chronic disease conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the chronic conditions which can creep in due to sleep apnea:
Daytime fatigue
This may sound like a typical problem, but it becomes serious for seniors. This usually occurs as our seniors get little sleep during the night due to sleep apnea. This can cause excessive fatigue during the day. It is causing them to fall asleep during daily activities. Lack of sleep and fatigue can also cause them to become irritated and depressed.
Heart ailments and hypertension
Repeated drop in oxygen supply while sleeping. It can exert excessive strain on the heart, allowing heart diseases to sneak in. Such a phenomenon can also increase the blood pressure, giving rise to hypertension.
Liver problems
Elderly with sleep apnea are also at an increased risk of suffering from liver diseases.
Surgery complications
The elderly with sleep apnea also have a difficult time dealing with surgery. They are more likely to suffer from complications after surgery. Furthermore, the side effects of anesthesia and medications administered during surgery. It is also a matter of deep concern for them.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

 

An essential aspect of caring for seniors with sleep apnea is creating a comfortable sleep environment. Ensure that their bedroom is conducive to quality sleep. Keep the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Invest in a supportive mattress and pillows to promote proper sleep posture, which can help alleviate breathing difficulties.

Utilizing CPAP Therapy

 

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a standard treatment for sleep apnea. It involves wearing a mask over the nose and mouth that delivers a steady stream of air, preventing the airway from collapsing during sleep. As a caregiver, you can assist your loved one by helping them properly fit the mask, cleaning it regularly, and ensuring they use it consistently as prescribed by their doctor.

Encouraging Lifestyle Changes

 

In addition to medical interventions, specific lifestyle changes can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms. Encourage your aging loved one to maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can contribute to airway blockages. Encourage them to engage in regular exercise, which can improve overall sleep quality. Additionally, discourage alcohol and sedatives, as these substances can relax the throat muscles and worsen sleep apnea symptoms.

Establishing a Sleep Routine

 

Consistency is vital for individuals who are aging with sleep apnea. Help your loved one establish a regular sleep routine by encouraging them to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day. Consistent sleep patterns can regulate their internal clock and enhance the effectiveness of sleep apnea treatments.

Monitoring and Documenting Progress

 

Keep track of your loved one’s sleep patterns and any changes in their symptoms. Maintaining a sleep journal can help you identify trends and provide valuable information to your healthcare provider. This collaborative approach ensures that the care plan remains effective and can be adjusted as needed.

Offering Emotional Support

 

Caring for someone with sleep apnea involves more than physical tasks; emotional support is equally important. Understand that coping with a chronic condition can be challenging for your aging loved one. Be patient, listen to their concerns, and provide reassurance. Your presence and understanding can significantly impact their emotional well-being.

Staying Informed

 

The field of sleep medicine is constantly evolving, with new treatments and strategies emerging. Stay informed about the latest developments by attending medical appointments with your loved one, reading reputable sources, and engaging in support groups or online communities. Staying up-to-date allows you to make informed decisions about their care.

Additional Education

 

Education in caregiving refers to acquiring the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to provide care for individuals who require assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming. This education can be obtained through formal programs or on-the-job training and experience. Education in caregiving aims to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide high-quality, compassionate care for those in need.

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Conclusion

 

Caring for aging loved ones with sleep apnea requires a holistic approach encompassing medical interventions, lifestyle changes, and emotional support. You can significantly enhance their quality of life by understanding the condition, collaborating with medical professionals, and implementing effective strategies. Remember, your dedication as a caregiver is vital in helping your loved one navigate the challenges of aging with sleep apnea and enjoy restful, rejuvenating sleep.

The post How To Effectively Care For The Aging With Sleep Apnea Now appeared first on The Caregiving Strategist.

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Nicole
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