Getting quality sleep is just as crucial as getting the right number of hours of sleep. Sleep apnea occurs when people experience breathing interruptions while they are sleeping. Sometimes these interruptions can last for ten seconds or more and frequently occur throughout the night. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep apnea can be life-threatening due to the extreme fatigue it creates, as well as causing many different health concerns. Detecting and treating sleep apnea as soon as possible is important for independent senior living, and here’s a brief overview of why it’s so serious.

Why Sleep Apnea Can Lead To Health Problems

The human body needs adequate rest to function properly. Sleep apnea happens when muscles located in the back of the throat cannot keep a person’s airways open, which can temporarily stop them from breathing. As a result, the person may not be getting quality sleep, and sometimes they aren’t even aware this is occurring. The result can be devastating if left untreated over time. Health problems such as strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease, extreme fatigue, and more are often the result of sleep apnea.

Possible Signs Seniors May Be Suffering From Sleep Apnea

As a primary caregiver, it’s critical to look for signs that your senior loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea. They may not tell you directly that they are having a hard time sleeping, and sometimes may not even realize they aren’t sleeping well. Signs to look for when providing senior care include:

  • Having difficulties concentrating on simple tasks
  • Constant mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Feelings of depression or sadness
  • Irritability
  • Severe snoring
  • Frequent daytime drowsiness

Of course, some of these signs may be present and unrelated to sleep apnea, but the important thing for a primary caregiver is to note the recurring signs to narrow down the possible causes.

Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea

Since sleep apnea is a common condition among Americans, there are some treatment options available to help. Most of the time, the first step is visiting a sleep clinic where they will place a sleep monitoring device on you to detect movements, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, eye movement, respiration, and more. For seniors with mild sleep apnea, simple lifestyle changes like exercising more or eating a healthier diet could improve sleep. For other more severe cases, sleep professionals may suggest wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to help push air into a person’s airway. Dental appliances may also help, and surgery is also an option for some people.

One of the roles of a primary caregiver is to ensure their loved one is enjoying senior living. Not getting enough quality sleep every night can significantly reduce the quality of life a senior lives, so it’s important to look out for signs of sleep apnea and take action as soon as possible.