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Getting enough sleep when we're older



A recent study that followed participants over a period of 25 years found some interesting correlations between nighttime sleeping habits and risk of dementia in later years. According to the study, one of the largest correlators of increased incidents of dementia and other cognitive issues was the amount of sleep a person gets in each weeknight. We all know that sleep is good for us (and we’ve all wanted to stay in bed on a cold morning!), but the actual scientific and health reasons to get more sleep have been consistently broad.


Adults who get six hours or less of sleep per night in their 50’s and 60’s show an almost 30% increase in their risk for dementia and other cognitive and mental health issues as they age into elderhood. However, adults who get seven or more hours of sleep per night show a markedly lower rate of age-related cognitive issues, even accounting for other health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. Getting enough sleep every night is even more important than we realize.


Even as we age into elderhood, many people still maintain a busy schedule and a full day. Combined with habits from earlier in our lives, such as staying up late to finish a homework assignment or a work project or staying up a little later than we should to finish a movie, this long period of less-than-ideal sleep can have measurable effects on our cognitive health in our later years. Doctors may tell us to get more sleep, just like they tell us to eat healthier and exercise more, but the actual issue of getting enough sleep is often left up to us.


For elder persons especially, a geriatric care manager can make a big difference in quality of life and overall health prognosis. Specifically for sleep, the role of a geriatric care manager can absolutely help manage the day-to-day realities of life and health, which includes sleep quality. During a home and client assessment, our care managers at Senior Steps look at all aspects of a person’s health situation, and routinely offer different strategies for getting more sleep. Sleeping in a quiet room, adding blackout blinds, suggesting medication and medical strategies for getting a good night’s sleep, these are all methods that Senior Steps uses to ensure our clients are getting their full seven hours.


Get some sleep! It’s healthy!

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