Are Sleeping Pills Safe for Seniors?

By , 9:00 am on

Does your loved one suffer from persistent insomnia? Perhaps you’ve tried several sleep-promoting measures, all to no avail. Are you considering medication, but unsure if it’s the right decision? Here, Home Care Assistance in San Antonio, TX, presents what medical authorities say about drug-induced sleep for seniors.

How Prescription Drugs Add Up

Prescription sleep aids don’t go beyond the benchmark hours for sleep. For example, a large FDA study of Sonata showed that it did not extend sleep time. Subjects slept an average of 6 hours and 20 minutes, and it took 36 minutes for them to fall asleep. Side effects were reported as memory problems and daytime sleepiness. An extensive FDA study of Lunesta revealed an average total sleep time of 6 hours and 22 minutes, and it took subjects 30 minutes to fall asleep.

Additionally, many classes of sleep aids decrease the time spent in deep sleep, and sleep medications often have hang-over-like effects. This is because they remain in the body longer than actually needed and drugs are not well-metabolized by seniors. Therefore, they persist in the senior system and result in over-medication.

Centers for Disease Control

In July 2014, the CDC published findings that a high number of emergency room visits are associated with prescription sleep aids. Approximately 30 percent of these E.R. visits result in hospitalization. Research also showed that use of Ambien accounted for the most visits. Seniors typically arrive at the hospital confused, lethargic, and injured from falls.

Sleeping Pill Side Effects

In addition to the above dangers, sleeping pills often trigger the following side effects:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Impaired memory
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Weight gain

Additional Drug Dilemmas

Both prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids can interact with other medications. They are especially contraindicated with drugs for treating high blood pressure, kidney disease, and seizures. Nightly use of medication can also foster drug dependence.

To learn more about promoting healthy sleep hygiene for seniors, reach out to the dedicated staff at Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly and live-in care in San Antonio, and our experienced caregivers can help your loved one find natural ways to fall and stay asleep. For more information, call a friendly Care Manager at (210) 495-6300 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.

 





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