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Can My Elderly Loved One Take Sleep Aids?

By , 8:00 am on

While trouble sleeping can be a normal part of aging, it’s often a sign of another condition. When that condition is treated, the insomnia may resolve. However, some seniors may be interested in treating their sleep issues with over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. But are these medications safe for those older than age 65?

While FDA-approved, over-the-counter sleep aids are typically safe for seniors, there are a few caveats. First, senior care providers in Oklahoma stress the importance of making sure that these drugs don’t interact with any other medications he or she may be taking. Also, most sleep aids of this kind don’t work for the long term, since people who take them regularly typically build a tolerance.

Some types of herbal supplements can help aid sleep, including melatonin and valerian. Melatonin, a chemical made naturally by the body, helps regulate the natural sleep-wake cycle. Valerian has also been shown in some studies to resolve mild insomnia. As with other medications, talk with your loved one’s doctor before trying these treatments.

It’s important to follow the instructions for these medications closely. Many are not recommended for people older than age 75 or who have some types of glaucoma, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, and certain other conditions.

Many doctors avoid prescribing strong prescription sleep medications such as Ambien as well as other types of drugs that causes sleepiness, such as Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax and Valium, to older adults. In addition to the risk of side effects, these drugs increase the risk for falls.

If your loved one is having trouble sleeping, talk with his or her doctor. They can perform a full medical examination to determine whether insomnia is caused by an underlying condition and whether sleep aids may be beneficial.

Some seniors experience insomnia or trouble sleeping due to stress or anxiety, depression, and poor sleep hygiene among other things. If this sounds like your loved one, he or she might benefit from 24/7 live-in care. A live-in caregiver can help around the house, promote a calming bedtime routine, and provide consistent emotional support. To learn more, call Home Care Assistance at 405-285-4191 and schedule a free in-home consultation.

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