A small study in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine involved 10 older adults with both obstructive sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease.
They had an average age of 76 years and a moderate level of dementia. For six weeks they had used CPAP therapy to treat their OSA. Then five of the people continued using CPAP therapy for a year; the other five stopped using CPAP.
Results show that sustained CPAP use produced long-term benefits. People who continued using CPAP remained stable or showed improvement on almost all measures; those who stopped using CPAP continued to deteriorate.
Subjective sleep quality improved significantly in the CPAP group. Their depressive symptoms and daytime sleepiness also stabilized.
The CPAP group also showed less cognitive decline. They showed evidence of improvement in executive functioning; CPAP also appeared to have positive effects on their mental processing speed.
The caregivers of people in the CPAP group also seemed to benefit. Their own sleep quality improved; their mood also remained stable.
According to the NIA, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease tend to appear after the age of 60. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning; this involves thinking, remembering and reasoning.
The AASM reports that OSA can occur in any age group; but it is more common between middle age and older age. The severity of untreated OSA also tends to progress over time.
On SleepEducation.com you can answer these questions to learn more about your risk for sleep apnea. Get help for sleep apnea at an AASM-accredited sleep center near you.