August 15, 2018
What could possibly be better than getting out of bed well rested after a great night’s sleep, truly energized and ready to face your day? For some older adults – as many as a third of them – obtaining sufficient sleep only happens within their dreams. And sadly, it is a common assumption that inadequate sleep is just something to be accepted in our later years – a misconception that Preeti Malani, M.D., chief health officer and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan really wants to dispel. According to Dr. Malani, “If older adults believe that these changes are a normal, inevitable part of aging, they may not think of it as something to discuss with their doctor. And not discussing it can potentially lead to health issues not being identified and managed.”
Rather than merely tossing and turning, as many as 40% of seniors with sleep issues are depending on sleeping medications – a habit that can be risky as we get older. Sleep medications for seniors double the danger of falls and bone injuries in the elderly, as a result of the increased dizziness and disorientation they could cause. Seniors may also be susceptible to becoming reliant upon these types of medications. And, the risk for automobile accidents can also be increased, based on Consumer Reports’ Choosing Wisely campaign.
Additionally, the concern about sleeping medications extends to herbal treatments and supplements as well, which place older adults at risk for a number of additional negative effects. Even something as outwardly innocuous as melatonin can interact with other common prescriptions, such as those for diabetes and high blood pressure, and also cause dizziness and nausea.
Step one in addressing sleep concerns for seniors is to speak with a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions (such as depression, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, as well as heart disease, to name just a few) and also to receive his/her recommendations on how to safely improve sleep. Several safer alternatives include:
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening
- Keep all electronic devices out from the bedroom, and keep the sleeping environment dark and cool
- Set a sleeping pattern and adhere to it, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day
- Engage the services of a skilled sleep therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy
As experts in home care St. Louis and the surrounding areas trust most, Continuum can help in lots of ways as well. Our fully trained and experienced in-home caregivers can help seniors stay active through the day with exercise programs, fun outings, and more, setting the stage for a better night’s sleep. Call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 to find out more.