According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, sleep apnea is associated with a decline in functionality for older women. Older women with sleep apnea are less able to perform daily activities necessary to independent living, which may result in increased need for assisted living and may lead to them living in a nursing home at a younger age.

Twice as Likely to Have Declining Function

A disappointed, elderly woman from her lack of sleepThis study looked at the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among a population of older women. More than 300 women with an average age of 82 were given unattended polysomnograms. The results of the polysomnograms were then compared with an assessment of the women’s mobility and their ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). After five years, women’s IADLs were assessed again and compared to the level at the first assessment.

Researchers found that women with sleep apnea at the initial polysomnogram were about twice as likely to have increased difficulties in performing IADLs as those who hadn’t had sleep apnea. For incidental difficulties, sleep apnea increased the decline to three times as great as for those without sleep apnea. Mobility was not affected.

Taking Energy Away When You Need It Most

Although alarming, these results are not surprising. People of any age who have sleep apnea have difficulty performing normal life functions. In most cases, younger people are able to maintain rudimentary focus on their jobs and other life tasks–though they may suffer reduced productivity and increased accident risk–but older individuals may not have as much reserve for dealing with the chronic fatigue, and the memory problems and brain damage associated with sleep apnea may be more serious.

Whatever your age, if you are suffering from sleep apnea, life can be much better with sleep apnea treatment. If you would like to learn what kind of sleep apnea treatment is best for you, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist to discuss your options at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.