Obstructive Sleep Apnea in the Elderly 

December 07, 2022 | Sleep Apnea |

Getting older means an increased likelihood of sleep apnea. In general sleep can become more difficult with age and sleep apnea becomes a common sleep disorder, affecting nearly 20% of older adults. As we get older, muscles weaken, including airway muscles, which makes seniors more likely to experience sleep apnea. 

Sleep Apnea in the Elderly

How Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affect the Elderly? 

As seniors lose sleep to sleep apnea, they will most likely experience more daytime drowsiness. Most seniors may see this as just one of the consequences of aging, rather than the result of a sleep disorder, and ignore it. But that means they may become more dependent on daytime naps to make up for lost sleep, which can take time away from their other daytime activities. 

Sleep apnea just doesn’t leave seniors feeling drowsy, it may also impair their mental abilities. With lost sleep comes an increase in memory loss, poor attention, poor reflexes and a decline in overall physical performance. The risk for falls and accidents increases as sleep apnea robs seniors of their ability to perform basic functions in daily life due to sleep loss. 

Impacts Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on The Elderly 

Dementia 

Sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructed sleep apnea affect dementia patients. Both disorders reduce healthy sleep which impacts brain health. If insomnia is not linked to other disorders such as depression, it may be a part of an individual’s dementia. Sleep loss among dementia patients is also often due to shorter periods of healthy sleep. Reduced sleep time can increase proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Alzheimer’s Disease 

Several studies suggest that cognitively healthy elderly individuals with OSA may have altered levels of Alzheimer’s disease biological markers. Interruptions in breathing from sleep apnea reduce oxygen in the blood. In result, this could damage a person’s brain cells. Additionally, OSA can be associated with other diseas including cardiovascular illnesses, depression, and others that could increase the risk of getting Alzheimer’s. 

Depression and Mood Disorders 

Disrupted sleep can lead to other mental health issues such as depression and mood disorders. Sleep loss begins to alter the brain chemistry and affect mood during the day. Feelings of hopelessness can become rampant, and erratic shifting moods including episodes of crying or anger can often dismissed as elevated emotions in old age. 

What are the Risks of Death with Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Elderly? 

Sleep apnea does increase the risk of death in the elderly. The impact of sleep apnea on health, in general, elevates already existing health problems in the elderly. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes in elderly patients can become magnified from sleep deprivation which increases the risk of mortality. 

A recent study performed showed that CPAP therapy helps patients with sleep apnea live longer lives. The use of this treatment provides lasting benefits, and resulted in a 62% decline in the odds of death after more than 11 years of treatment and follow-ups. These results even factor in those who suffer with sleep apnea but also have other illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more.

Best Treatment for Sleep Apnea in the Elderly 

It is critical that seniors exhibiting any of the symptoms of sleep loss get tested for sleep apnea. Home sleep tests can help accurately determine the occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea. Once diagnosed, a doctor can recommend PAP therapy options.  

CPAP machines are the most common method for treating sleep apnea. By staying CPAP compliant, elderly patients will experience fewer apneas at night and improved sleep health.  Other lifestyle changes can help improve healthy sleep. Avoiding alcohol and smoking, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding blue light devices like computers and cell phones before bedtime can also help seniors get better sleep.  

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Buy CPAP Machines for Sleep Apnea Treatment in the Elderly 

You can find CPAP machines to treat sleep apnea for the elderly at The CPAP Shop. Our knowledgeable staff will help you select the best CPAP machine based on your prescription. Your CPAP machine can then be quickly delivered to your front door. For any questions or assistance, give us a call at 866-414-9700 today!

Chris Vasta

Author

Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…


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