Statistics Canada references research suggesting it’s best for adults 65 and older to aim for 7–8 hours of sleep per night. The key term when it comes to sleep for seniors is “high-quality sleep,” which means uninterrupted sleep that’s truly beneficial for mind-body health. But older adults sometimes have difficulty getting sufficient sleep if they’re also living with any of the common senior sleep disorders mentioned below.
Defined as an inability to get to sleep or stay asleep, insomnia is a sleep disorder older adults frequently experience, and it’s sometimes related to an underlying condition or chronic pain. Even if this isn’t the case, the natural sleep-wake cycle often changes with age in a way that increases the risk of insomnia. If an inability to sleep well is a regular occurrence for your senior loved one, possible solutions include:
• Establishing a regular sleep schedule
• Being more active during the day to minimize daytime napping
• Making the bedroom quiet, cool, and calming
Sleep aids are typically not recommended for older adults because of potential side effects associated with long-term use. Instead, seniors are often encouraged to focus on lifestyle and daily habit changes to manage insomnia.\
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Characterized by periodic breathing disruptions while sleeping, obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder common in older adults. The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) found older adults are roughly three times more likely to be diagnosed with OSA than younger adults. OSA is also associated with an assortment of health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Losing excess weight and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping are two ways this sleep disorder may be addressed.
Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted senior home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
RLS causes an irresistible urge to move one or both legs, usually while lying down or resting. If your loved one has this sleep-related disorder, he or she may be regularly awakened while trying to sleep, which could contribute to daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating when awake, and irritability. Seniors with RLS may benefit from:
• Warm baths or massages
• Warm or cool packs applied to the legs
• Moderate regular exercise
• Avoiding caffeinated products
When you understand the causes of your loved one’s sleep issues, you can be better equipped to help him or her get high-quality rest. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional in-home care. Calgary, AB, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)
With this sleep disorder, seniors may be awakened by intermittent lower limb movements. While PLMD can be a stand-alone condition, it’s often associated with RLS or sleep apnea. It’s not curable, but treatment usually involves taking medication and/or avoiding caffeine.
Even when not coupled with sleep apnea, snoring can be problematic for seniors. It’s common in older adults, in part, because muscles in the throat and tongue relax and lose tone over time. Snoring in seniors has also been associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder that causes stomach acid to flow backward via the esophagus into the throat. If your loved one snores and it’s affecting daytime alertness or contributing to other quality of life issues, improvements may be seen by:
• Sleeping on the side instead of the back
• Using nasal strips
• Addressing underlying issues with nasal or sinus congestion
If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Calgary, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 403-301-3777.