Geriatric Sleep Research Program
Attitudes Towards Sleep Disorders in the Elderly
The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between sleep complaints and the patientís ultimate decision to pursue evaluation/treatment of these conditions. Up to 54% of older adults complain of some type of sleep disorder such as insomnia, snoring or witnessed apneas. Growing evidence from longitudinal studies suggests that many of these are associated with significant sequelae, including an increased risk of depression, cognitive impairment and cardiovascular disease. Despite these long-term risks, our preliminary data suggests that less than 60% of elderly adults with sleep disorders are interested in pursuing an evaluation of those sleep disorders. Potential factors that may underlie an older adultís decision to not seek treatment for their sleep disorders include the following: the belief that sleep problems are a natural part of aging; a desire to refrain from seeing physicians; a lack of awareness of the potential medical consequences of sleep disordered breathing; and pre-occupation with other medical conditions. Our primary hypothesis, supported by our initial preliminary pilot data collection, is that a lack of awareness of the potential medical consequences of sleep apnea, such as hypertension, cardiac disease or stroke, plays a major role in a patientís belief that their sleep disorder does not warrant further evaluation/treatment.
Gabriel Koen, research assistant
Sumedha Chhartre, biostatistician