Saturday, February 15, 2014

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: Senior Sleep

By Helen Antipov
Has getting enough sleep become an issue. If you or your loved one is over age 65, it typically takes longer to fall asleep, and you may often wake up during the night. These are two main reasons many seniors don’t get as much sleep as they need. In fact according to an article on, studies of adults over 65 indicated 13% of men, and 36% of women need more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we are committed to Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill and your senior's healthy living and quality care. Here are some great facts on sleeping...
Several factors contribute to difficulty sleeping as one ages. Dr. Lim Li Ling, a consultant neurologist for the Singapore Neurology & Sleep Centers at Gleneagles Medical Centre, offered these as the most common reasons:
The natural aging process. As we age, our bodies make less of the chemicals and hormones that help us sleep well, such as Melatonin. Some seniors develop sensitivity to environmental factors affecting sleep such as noise.
An increase in neurological and other medical conditions. The parts of the brain that control sleep are affected by conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke. Arthritis can also play a role in sleep quality due to chronic pain. Additionally, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) causes one to kick involuntarily during sleep, and that contributes to daytime sleepiness.
The effects of medication. The medications that treat conditions associated with aging, and the fact that seniors are more likely to be on multiple medications, interfere with the duration and quality of sleep.
A higher prevalence of sleep disorders. In this case, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common. OSA causes blockage in the upper air passage during sleep. Two additional sleep conditions that contribute to seniors getting less sleep are Restless Leg Syndrome and Insomnia. For men, prostate conditions cause the need to urinate frequently throughout the night.
Mood factors such as anxiety and depression. Most seniors are affected to varying degrees by the loss of loved ones, spouses and close friends. Also, as seniors face retirement and other significant life changing events, they are more likely to have trouble sleeping.
The dangers of inadequate sleep
It’s when we are sleeping that our bodies regenerate cells and clean our blood by circulating it through the liver. The need for sleep is as basic as that for water and food. Many people think it’s OK to go without sleep—to ‘power through’ the day anyway. But doctors warn that, just because you’ve gone without enough sleep for a big part of your adult life, doesn’t mean it won’t impact you as you get older. 
Senior adults are already prone to some illnesses, as well as falls, accidents and balance deficiencies. Not getting enough sleep just increases all these risks. There is compelling research that indicates too little sleep contributes to an increased appetite and weight gain.
While many senior adults do struggle with depression and anxiety, those without these conditions are more prone to developing them if they don’t get enough sleep.
How much sleep do seniors need?
There are differing theories in answer to this question. Much data, including information from the National Institutes on Health, suggests seniors can remain healthy with less sleep than the general population. For example while the average amount of required sleep is about seven to nine hours nightly, some sleep experts say a bit less than that—maybe about 7 and a half hours on average—is adequate for seniors.
Other experts report that seniors need as much sleep as they always have to function at their best. Either way, experts typically agree on three things: first, most seniors are sleep deprived; second, the sleep cycles of aging adults change; and third, the best indicator of achieving enough sleep is how one feels during the day.
According to an article written by Jennifer Dixon for WebMD, older adults slip into what is called an advanced sleep phase. When this happens the body’s natural ‘clock’ desires both earlier bed and wake times. Seniors who have always been ‘night owls’ and keep their same sleep habits, may be at risk of sleep deprivation and all the health risks associated with it.
As we age, we tend to get less ‘deep sleep,’ according to an article for, reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH. Additionally, Ling said it’s more common for senior adults to spread their sleep out over a 24-hours period, sleeping 4-5 hours per night and taking additional naps during the day. Ling believes this habit is perfectly fine as long as the total amount of sleep is adequate.
Ling also warns that seniors should not accept a lack of proper rest and daytime sleepiness as a normal process of aging. If you or your loved one has experienced trouble sleeping for more than two weeks, a trip to the doctor is warranted.
Take steps to support healthy sleep
Doctors suggest numerous ways to help seniors get enough sleep, and many apply to people of all ages: avoid caffeine close to bedtime, avoid large meals near bedtime, and rise and go to bed at the same time every day. advises these additional habits to help foster adequate sleep:
Many people who have trouble sleeping also turn to natural remedies such as Melatonin and Valerian Root. Always check with your doctor before trying a natural sleep remedy.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that aging can have on a family especially if you are providing senior care or elder care at home.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

The editors of
“How Much Sleep do Seniors Need?” Reviewed for by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH. 
The editors of
“How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” by the editors of the National Sleep Foundation for
“Natural Herbs to Help the Elderly Sleep at Night,” by Damon Verial, eHow contributor, and “Elderly Sleep Disorders,” by Jessica Lietz, eHow contributor
The editors of
“Sleep Changes in Older Adults,” by the editors of

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill: 5 Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss

By Helen Antipov

Aging happen - many changes that occur as we age may not be preventable. But one common problem among senior adults—hearing loss—isn’t one of them? Many seniors and their loved ones expect that some hearing loss is inevitable. While it’s true that gradual hearing loss is not uncommon, especially after age 65, there are actions we can take while we’re younger to ward off its severity. At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we are committed to Senior Care & Elder Care in Durham & Chapel Hill and your senior's healthy living and quality care. 

Facts about hearing and hearing loss
The National Institutes of Health estimate one third of people in the U.S. between the ages of 65 and 75 have some hearing loss, and about one half of those older than 75 have some trouble hearing normal sounds. About 40% of the 20 million Americans who have hearing loss are 65 or older.
When sound waves reach the structures of the inner ear, they cause vibrations at the eardrum before travelling through the cochlea. Attached to nerve cells within the cochlea are thousands of tiny hairs that help translate these vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain. 
The medical term for the gradual hearing loss that comes with age is presbycusis. It’s caused by a loss of these tiny hair cells that act as sound receptors, and also from free radical damage that can clog up the ear’s tissues that act as sound amplifiers. Another reason hearing loss occurs is a build-up of wax in the inner ear. Earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound waves. This type of hearing loss can usually be restored with earwax removal.

Since hearing loss can start at any age, prevention measures should start early, and become a lifelong habit. Here are 5 of the most important ways to prevent unnecessary hearing loss:
Avoid Harmful Noises: Unfortunately, due to environmental factors, people of all ages are now experiencing hearing loss at younger ages and quicker rates. Reduce the noise in your life by turning down the volume on the stereo, TV, car radio—and especially when using personal listening devices with headphones or ear buds. If you use headphones to listen to music, don’t turn the volume up past 50%, and never exceed 80% even for a short time.

Activities and equipment that are the most dangerous for our ears include: snowmobiling, hunting, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, jet skis and power tools. Always wear ear protection when involved in these activities and sports, and especially in workplaces where prolonged exposure to loud noises is common. The Mayo Clinic recommends pre-formed or custom-molded earplugs made of plastic or rubber as one way to prevent hearing loss.

Use proper hygiene: Never stick a cotton swab, or other object in your ear to remove earwax, or scratch your ear. If earwax if causing you problems with hearing, speak to your doctor about the best way to remove it. 

Always blow your noise gently and use both nostrils. During air travel, swallow and yawn frequently when the plane is landing. If you have a cold, flu, a sinus infection, or other upper respiratory illness, take a decongestant a few hours before your plane lands, or use a nasal spray right before landing.
Keep medical conditions under control: Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and other circulatory illnesses that are not treated properly can lead to hearing loss. The inner parts of the ear are sensitive and delicate so any circulation problems you have can affect your hearing. Trouble hearing is also likely to occur in people who smoke.

Talk to your doctor about your medications: Some medications, although not many, can affect your hearing. For example, temporary effects on your hearing can occur if you take large doses of aspirin. Certain kinds of diuretics can also affect hearing. Since hearing loss is partially genetic, let your doctor know if anyone in your family has trouble hearing. 

Don’t wait to see the doctor: After noise-related damage to the ear happens, it can’t be reversed, but further damage is preventable. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, get your hearing checked by a professional. If you are genetically predisposed to hearing loss, take precautions right away. There is some evidence that supplements can prevent hearing loss, but always check with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.

The Mayo Clinic offers these signs that you or a loved one might be experiencing hearing loss: 
  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially in a crowd of people or if there is background noise
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly 
  • Always feeling the need to turn up the volume of the TV or music
  • Typically withdrawing from conversations, and avoidance of some social settings.

At Comfort Keepers of Durham and Chapel Hill, we understand the stress that aging can have on a family especially if you are providing senior care or elder care at home.  We are here to help you and give you the support you need when dealing with a loved one and senior and eldercare issues. Call us at 919-338-2044 or visit us online.

The editors of
The editors of
The editors of
“Preventing Hearing Loss,” by Mark Stibich, Ph.D for
The Senior Health Center at
The National Institutes of Health,