5 Ways Older Adults Can Prevent Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep, which may happen multiple times throughout the night, resulting in poor sleep and tiredness the following day. Sleep apnea puts seniors at a higher risk of developing serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes and may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Decrease your senior loved one’s risk of developing sleep apnea by taking the following five steps. 

1. Lose Excess Weight 

Seniors who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. A 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found people who lost weight were able to prevent or alleviate their sleep apnea. The study looked at 264 obese individuals who had type 2 diabetes. Half of the participants were given an exercise and diet program and the other half were not. Those in the weight loss group lost an average of 24 pounds over a year and were found to be three times more likely to experience a remission in their sleep apnea when compared with the non-weight loss group. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help your loved one lose weight and prevent sleep apnea. 

Older adults often need help managing a healthy diet and losing weight. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable home care. Mesa, AZ, families trust in Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.

2. Address Snoring 

It’s easy to overlook snoring as a common bedtime phenomenon. However, snoring can also be a symptom of sleep apnea. Approximately 35 percent of seniors who regularly snore have been found to have sleep apnea. If your loved one snores, ask his or her doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea and schedule a sleep test to properly diagnose it. 

3. Get an Adjustable Bed 

Sleeping with the head elevated can keep airways clear so breathing throughout the night is continuous. Because sleeping on multiple pillows can reduce comfort, some experts recommend getting an adjustable bed to elevate the head and neck during bedtime. 

If your loved one needs help maintaining good sleep hygiene, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Mesa respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.

4. Learn to Breathe Properly 

Many people, particularly those with respiratory issues, breathe through their mouths rather than their noses in an attempt to deliver extra oxygen to their bodies. However, breathing through the mouth can have the opposite effect. The smooth muscles in the lungs require a certain amount of carbon dioxide to function properly. Breathing through the mouth removes too much carbon dioxide over time, damaging the muscles. Learning to breathe through the nose during the night and day can prevent the mouth from dropping open during sleep and causing sleep apnea. 

5. Become a Side Sleeper 

Many people with sleep apnea find their symptoms are worse when they sleep on their backs. Some experts believe sleeping on the back allows the muscles and soft tissue in the respiratory tract to relax and block airways. Encourage your loved one to try sleeping on his or her side. Placing a body pillow behind your loved one can support his or her back when side sleeping.

If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Mesa home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.  Contact us at (480) 699-4899 today to meet with a trusted Care Manager and customize a care plan for your loved one.

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