Chapter 12

Sleep and Safety in the Elderly

Salim Surani and Swetha Bopparaju

Abstract

Sleep is vital for good health in all individuals. Sleep disorders are highly prevalent in our society, with a majority of them related to reversible etiology. There has been an increasing predominance of abnormal sleep hygiene in the elderly due to changes in the circadian rhythm, medication use, and other comorbid conditions in this population. These factors commonly result in tiredness, cognitive abnormalities, work accidents, and potentially, a safety hazard to the older population. The crux of the problem lies in the fact that the condition is generally under recognized and inappropriately treated and, thus, it is imperative that firm steps should be taken not only to screen patients and promptly initiate therapy but also to understand the physiology of sleep loss in the elderly and encourage the practice of nonpharmacological measures as a primary mode of therapy while maintaining a conservative and minimalist approach towards pharmacological treatment to enhance a healthy lifestyle in these individuals. Patients and physicians should be educated regarding the importance of healthy sleep hygiene and the prompt use of nonpharmacological measures for treatment.

Total Pages: 130-145 (16)

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