Return to a good night’s sleep

If your older
loved one snores loudly, he or she likely has sleep apnea: A collapsing of the
airways while sleeping that results in mini-suffocations 5–30 times an hour.
And, left untreated, this serious condition is a strong contributor to
heart-related deaths, type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, and car accidents.
It’s also a huge problem for any bed partners! Sleep apnea is important to

changes can help.
weight, quitting smoking, and treating allergies are key steps. Refraining from
alcohol at night is also effective, because alcohol relaxes the throat muscles.
Learning to sleep on one’s side is another strategy to reduce apnea episodes.

There are
several possible treatments.
Some require a doctor’s prescription. Not all treatments work for

  • CPAP (continuous positive airway
    pressure). Through a strapped-on facial mask, a CPAP machine pushes air into
    the airways and down into the lungs. While a CPAP is the most reliable
    treatment, it admittedly takes some time to get accustomed to wearing the mask.
    Medicare covers the CPAP, based on the device’s recording of usage. If your
    relative does not use it for at least four hours a night, 70% of the nights in
    the first three months, Medicare will take it back.
  • Dental
    device that thrusts the lower jaw forward.
    Worn only at night, this device opens the
    throat. It is easy to use, easy for traveling, and does not require
    electricity. Talk with the dentist. Note: Medicare will not pay for a dental
  • Nasal
    Inserted into
    the nostrils, these devices create counterpressure in the airways, often enough
    to keep the airways open. Ask for a prescription.
  • Nasal
    over-the-counter devices can be as simple as a strip resembling a Band-Aid with
    a wire in it. Placed below the bridge of the nose, the wire causes the nostrils
    to flare, increasing airway capacity.

Is your relative resisting treatment?
As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates understand how hard it can be to get a loved one to do the sleep test and then follow through with therapy. But the stakes are high. We can help you explore all the options. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let’s talk.