Dangers of Sleep Deprivation for the Elderly

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What Makes Sleep Deprivation Dangerous for the Elderly?

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Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and advanced sleep phase disorder are common among seniors. Along with the normal aches and pains associated with aging, the elderly are susceptible to illnesses like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis, which can make it increasingly difficult to get deep and restful sleep. If your elderly loved one is frequently missing out on sleep, Scottsdale senior home care experts recommend seeking professional medical attention because sleep deprivation can actually be hazardous to his or her health. Here are a few reasons why.

Problems Staying Focused

A lack of sleep can make it difficult to focus on even the most basic of tasks. If getting dressed was a challenge before, selecting appropriate clothing can become infinitely more frustrating once a few nights of sleep have been missed. Decreased focus can also poses a serious safety hazard for your loved one, particularly if he or she cooks. A senior who can hardly keep his or her eyes open is likely to forget the oven or a burner on the stove has been left on.

Lowered Immunity

Sleep helps the body refresh and restore itself. When seniors don’t get enough sleep, all of their internal systems and functions are affected. Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on immune system functionality, making seniors less able to fight off illness or successfully manage health conditions they’ve already been diagnosed with.

Increased Risk of Emotional Illness

Long-term sleep deprivation can make aging adults more likely to develop various forms of emotional illness. Insufficient rest makes it harder to manage and adapt to stress. Though moodiness and irritability are early signs of sleep deprivation, full-blown panic attacks, chronic anxiety, and regular emotional outbursts indicate a serious need for outside help.

Decreased Cognitive Functioning

Seniors who rarely get good and restful sleep tend to have significantly lower cognitive abilities than those who maintain regular and acceptable sleep schedules. Sleep deprivation can cause distortion of memory, confusion, and significantly reduced mental capacity. Over time, skills related to problem solving and decision-making may also decrease.

Various Physical Effects

In addition to impacting mood and overall brain functioning, insufficient sleep can also take a serious toll on your loved one’s physical health. Seniors are more likely to have muscle and joint discomfort due to a heightened sensitivity to pain, which can also place an undue amount of stress on internal organs. Sleep deprived seniors can also experience decreases in sugar metabolism, insulin production, muscle strength, and respiratory endurance.

Seniors who show signs of having sleep disorders can benefit from the help Home Care Assistance provides. Our caregivers can assist with physical activity, provide social and mental stimulation, and help with a variety of daily tasks, and we also offer comprehensive stroke, Parkinson’s, and dementia home care Scottsdale families trust. For more information on our in-home care services, please call 480.448.6215 today.