Preventing falls in the elderly can significantly improve quality of life. Unfortunately, falling and injury happen too frequently. Fall prevention in the elderly is the result of common sense safety planning and education regarding contributing factors that set people up to fall. Many frequently used medications increase these risks, especially sleep aids and certain anxiety medications. But insomnia and anxiety also impair quality of life and need to be treated. Learn more about the risks and safer alternatives that can help.
Melatonin is widely used to treat difficulties with sleep and is readily available given the lack of need for a prescription. Because it is classified as a dietary supplement (not a drug) it isn’t regulated by the FDA and there aren’t any dosing parameters set. This has led to a lack of clarity about the recommended melatonin dosage for adults. The dose people take often varies by their best guess and the pill strength sold in the store they are in. What is melatonin and should you take 3mg? 10mg? The recommendations are vague so no wonder people are confused about how to use melatonin!
Oh, the joys of aging and sleep!
Insomnia in the elderly is a frequent struggle. The amount of sleep people need (and the quality of sleep) changes over a lifetime. Sleep may be affected by genetics, mental health, physical health, and medications. These changes can be part of the normal aging process and can happen independently of medical or psychiatric illness.
Sleep and Aging: What frequently happens with insomnia in the elderly?
- Reduce total sleep time,
- Cause daytime sleepiness,
- Increase the number of times you wake up after you fall asleep (reduce sleep efficiency),
- Reduce dream (REM) sleep,
- Cause a lighter sleep,
- Reduce the amount of slow wave sleep so there is less restorative sleep,
- Shift your circadian rhythm so you are sleepy earlier in the evening and wake early in the morning.
Read here for an in-depth article of everything you ever wanted to know about aging and sleep.
Treatment of insomnia in elderly individuals:
There are many treatment options for sleep problems.