Seniors – people aged 65 and up – form a crucial part of the American population making up 14.5 percent of the U.S. population at 46.2 million in 2014. Aside from the wisdom they impart to us, many of them still contribute to society in their advanced age. Most of them are taken care of in nursing homes, other American households prefer to let them stay at home, many of whom with the help of caregivers. Taking care of them at home is fulfilling, but can interfere with your family affairs because of their growing health problems.
The elderly population suffers from more health issues than other age brackets. As they reach the advanced stage in their lives, their bodily systems do not work as they used to be. Among the most recognizable changes in their body functions is their lessened appetite for sleep.
Doctors say the elderly still needs to sleep seven to nine hours every night. But many of them are getting fewer hours of sleep because of many factors such as lesser melatonin production and heightened sensitivity and anxiety with their environment.
Studies revealed older Americans have lower satisfaction in their sleep. They added that elderly Americans have a longer time falling asleep, lesser REM sleep, and increased sleep fragmentation or disturbance.
Another reason is the intensifying pain they experience in various parts of their body. Seniors experience occasional to chronic pain such as arthritis and joint pains, muscle strain from repeated use of muscles (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome), injuries that they sustained, and pain associated with major diseases such as depression, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. These discomforts are severe enough that about 20 percent of them take medications to numb the pain.
Experiencing pain is part of living, especially of your grandparents and other senior citizens. It is also among the challenges that prevent them from getting quality sleep, which is essential to maintaining their health and wellness.
You can help them cope with these problems in the latter stages of their lives by medication such as analgesics, opioid pain relievers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can also subject them to various pain management therapies such as acupuncture, cold laser therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, massage therapy, physical therapy (including exercise), and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Another method to reduce pain while sleep is by choosing the right mattress. Sleeping on an inferior mattress may not give them the proper comfort and support, which may heighten their sensitivity to pain.
Mattress vs. pain
Of all the mattress types, an unbiased study named memory foam as the most satisfying. It is no wonder health professionals recommend them to patients suffering from back pain. The same qualities of memory foam – comfort, support, and temperature – that soothe back pain sufferers can have the same effect on seniors.
Comfort – The heightened sensitivity of seniors to motion and noise can disturb their sleep. Memory foam’s capacity to absorb force and pressure without the screeching of springs address these concerns. While other foam types trap body heat, making it hotter as time passes, the gel layer in gel memory foams can dissipate heat and maintain a cooler temperature during the night.
Support – Gel memory foam mattress adjusts snugly to the curves of your spine and other body parts and “remembers” them, thus keeping the natural alignment of your body while lying down. This feature allows this mattress type to cradle the pressure points where various kinds of pain usually originate.
Falling and staying asleep are getting more difficult for the elderly. But with effective pain management including a careful selection of mattress, they may still have better more productive days to enjoy.