Boomers Tired All The Time? You May be Suffering from Sleep Apnea

sleep apneaThe baby boomer generation is over 75 million strong. They are active, successful, and live life to the fullest. But as they grow older their medical needs are increasing. Reports are coming in from all over the country that many baby boomers are now suffering from sleep apnea. Below we take a look at sleep apnea’s signs, symptoms, treatment methods, and causes.

The Greek word apnea literally means “without breath” and describes the loss of breath that someone who suffers from the disorder experiences. It is common for people to experience hundreds of apneas a night where the airways are blocked by the soft tissue in the throat collapsing or the brain failing to send the correct signals to the breathing muscles.

The most common form of sleep apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when the throat relaxes and partially blocks the airway causing airway restriction leading to waking up and being out of breath.

Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive tiredness and sleepiness during the day
  • Waking with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Frequent awaking accompanied with feelings of being out of breath
  • Irritability and erratic mood swings
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of memory
  • Depression

Sleep apnea is diagnosed using a variety of methods and information such as:

  • Family and Medical History

Healthcare providers will as a series of questions concerning family and personal medical history. They will also want to find out about sleeping patterns and associated symptoms caused by sleep apnea.

Many times people have to acquire the assistance of a family member, spouse, or friend because they are not aware of their behaviors while asleep. Some people keep a sleep diary for 48 hours to gather data that will assist the doctor.

  • Physical exam

The physician will typically examine the neck and throat for causes of blockages such as enlarged and swollen uvula. The uvula is located near the back of the throat and is a piece of soft tissue. Physicians also look at the soft palette which is located at the back of the throat on the roof of the mouth.

  • Sleep study

If a physician needs more information for a proper diagnosis and feels more information is needed they will refer the patient on to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. Sleep studies are typically performed at a sleep center, but may take place in the patient’s home. The most common sleep study test is the polysomnogram.

CPAP Treatment

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure and is a treatment device that is used for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea.  The device is a mask-type machine that fills the air passages with a continuous air stream that works to keep air passages open and clear while sleeping. Many baby boomers who suffer from sleep apnea have found relief using a sleep apnea machine.

Benefits of Using a CPAP

Users of CPAP machines have reported significant improvements in sleep apnea symptoms.  Some of those improvements include:
·    Better quality of life
·    Improved sleeping at night
·    Increased mood happiness
·    Better job performance
·    Enhanced sexual drive
·    Increased alertness when sitting or driving
·    Improved energy
·    More motivation
·    Elimination of snoring

CPAP Side Effects

As with most medical treatment side effects may occur.  Some of the most common side effects experienced by CPAP users include:
·    Dry nasal passages
·    Red marks around the nose
·    Sinus congestion
·    Eye dryness
·    Mouth dryness

If you are a baby boomer and you suspect you or your partner may be suffering from sleep apnea see your health care provider immediately.

Snowtirement

Audrey and Jay were having a wonderful time visiting their long time friends Bob and Mary at the home they moved to six months ago in Village at Deaton Creek, an Active Adult Community North of Atlanta.

“I love the way you have decorated your home, it looks like a model home! I am sure you had some help, didn’t you?” asks Audrey.

“Yes, we sure did. There is a designer woman we met at the Vendor Fair here that we really liked. She helped us, especially with the paint colors, rugs and even some furniture. I cannot believe we are buying furniture at age 67!” replied Mary.

Audrey exclaimed, “Love the floor plan especially the sun room and it’s all on one level. No Stairs!”

After the tour of their home, Bob and Mary gave their friends the community tour and included the large clubhouse, called the Activities Center. It was impressive with the gym, indoor pool, craft rooms, library and huge ballroom where Bob explained they love to go to concerts.

“We really like it here and have made the adjustment but still feel like we are on vacation.”, Bob beamed. “It really is like living on a cruise ship!”

“We’ll get a quick lunch before you go; I know you need to get on the road with questionable weather on the way.”

“There is a place next door at the Reunion Golf Course Clubhouse that has a wonderful patty melt with potato fries.”, Bob suggested. Off they went to a late lunch and more discussions of how living in an active adult community is. After lunch on the way out to the car, everyone was surprised to see it was snowing. Well it is January but this was unexpected. Back at Bob and Mary’s house, there were quick goodbyes and a promise to get together again soon. Bob gave directions of a short cut back to Alpharetta via Friendship Road to Peachtree Industrial Blvd. “You will not have to get on the expressway and it’s not a bad trip.” Bob offered.

Audrey and Jay hit the road to snow flurries coating their Honda and began to discuss their visit.

“They sound like they are having the time of their lives don’t they. I have not seen them this excited in a while. I wonder if the excitement will wear off?” wonders Jay.

It sounds so exciting. Bob has taken up race walking and bocce and thinking about learning pickle ball even. He says he and Mary take a cardio class a couple of times a week. Mary says she has made a new friend and just had a day outing for shopping and lunch. She also plays Hand and Foot, a card game with the women on her street. “They sure are active; I guess that is why they call it an active adult community.” offered Audrey.

“Jay have you ever thought of moving to a place like that, an active adult community?” inquires Audrey.

About that time it was really snowing hard, mixed with sleet. Visibility was becoming bleak and on Peachtree Industrial they hit a bump, which was an ice patch and the car swerved around and came to a stop on the shoulder.

“Wow, this is a hazard to drive in and not safe!” says Audrey who was driving. A quick check of the radio weather confirmed roads were closing around Alpharetta and all points north.

“There is a motel up on the right. Let’s head over there and see if they have a room, Audrey, before it is too late and we get stuck out here.”
They make it the short distance on the slippery road to the motel and are able to check in a room, as others are doing the same.

“Looks like we will be staying tonight to let things blow over until it clears tomorrow by noon.”

A call to Bob and Mary and to their daughter lets everyone know they are safe.

“At least the motel has a restaurant next to the office and the manager tells me they will stay open for the guests.” reassures Jay.

After four hours in the room watching the storm coverage on TV and then getting some rest, they were ready for dinner. The diner was open and they take the short breezeway walk over to enjoy a leisurely meal. They order a bottle of red wine.

“Jay, I think I would like to look into living in an active adult community like that, when I retire. What do you think?” Audrey asks.

“I don’t know. I have some reservations about communities like that.”

“Please tell me what they are?”

“Well is that where you want to end up?” ponders Jay.

“I don’t think of it as ending up anywhere, just a move for a more meaningful life.”

“I just don’t think I’m ready for that. Did you see all the white hair in that group of card players in the clubhouse? That is scary.”

“Jay you are now 65. Our good friend Bob and Mary are 67. Those people in the clubhouse were nice when we spoke with them. You have gray around your temples and I know you get highlights when you get your haircut. Gray hair makes no difference to me, at all. You should see mine if I didn’t have my C&C.” Audrey declares.

“What is a C&C?”

“Cut and color!”

“Do you have any other concerns?”

Jay continues, “Well I know Bob and Mary say their neighbors are real friendly, but I like my privacy, at least in my own home. I do not want people just dropping by without calling.”

“Jay, Mary told me that never happens. Neighbors always call and respect your privacy. There are lots of get together at homes of neighbors and friends in the community, but you usually get an invitation with an email RSVP. Mary says friends are easy to make, everyone is in the same boat. They meet you half way. The houses are close together. However, did you see how Mary’s backyard is very private backing up to the woods and different elevations from the neighbors on each side? I couldn’t even see any neighbor’s home.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, I have heard there are cliques in neighborhoods like that. Difference price homes in different sections. Audrey, I do not like feeling looked down on if we don’t buy into the section with the largest homes.”

“Mary says that most of the time you don’t know what section people live it. Some of her friends live in the villas, the smallest homes. People are retired for the most part and are not trying to impress anyone. Besides just because you want to downsize to a smaller home doesn’t mean you couldn’t afford a larger home. Large homes are not necessarily nicer. Now Mary says people do get to be friends with the people sharing the same interests and activities. That is where many friendships start, so you are not just friends with your neighbors. Bob and Mary have made several friends from playing bocce with them for instance. Mary has made friends with several at the card games.”

Jay took another sip of wine and pondered her answers. “Actually I did observe some positives that I thought were negatives. The houses are much larger inside than I thought. Bob said his house is 2,777 square feet. That is bigger than our house now. I do like that they built the houses to be energy efficient with the Hardie Plank siding, extra insulation, and efficient appliances. I know this is the kind of stuff we guys look at, but it’s important to me. I could not believe how reasonable the HOA fee is and it includes lawn maintenance, so I can free up my weekends. I used to look forward to cutting grass but no more. Money wise, Bob and Mary will save a bundle on their taxes when they turn 70 and get an exclusion from Hall Country School taxes. ”

“You are right Jay and another thing is safety. Safety is no longer a worry when you live in a gated community, where the comings and goings are noted. We will have peace of mind when we up our cruise schedule.”

Jay counters “But I don’t want to become old before my time by surrounding myself with a bunch of old people. I still think of myself as young! There are no kids or younger people around.”

“Darling, you are too funny! The whole concept of an active adult community is to keep active and younger the longer you can. That is why there are so many activities. Just think of the gym, the pools, the sidewalks for walking and Mary says there are nine miles of walking trails. You sure cannot go walking very far on the sidewalks down in suburbia. So physically, you have many opportunities to get and stay fit and younger looking. Mentally, Mary says the people are very interesting and engaged. They have forums, lectures, lifelong learning courses, day trips as well as interesting clubs and groups. Bob says he is taking creative writing course, something he is enjoying learning. Maybe he will write a novel one day. There are plenty of children nearby; did you see all of those Pediatric and Orthodontic offices? Besides child and grand kids can come visit and even stay awhile.”

“Look the snow is stopping.” Jay looked up at the weather channel on TV and sees “Snow Clearing By Tomorrow AM in Atlanta.

Audrey continues “Well is it good to have this discussion. I know I am retiring this year and we need to do some strategic thinking about our future. I just want us to be happy. I saw a web site listing Active Adult Communities, so why don’t I do some research and we can visit some during our weekends this Spring. I heard most have a “stay and play” program where you can stay in a model home for 2 or 3 nights with full access to the clubhouse and activities, just to get a feel for how living there will be. They even give you use of a golf cart! What do you think Jay?”

“Yes, I will go but I am not making any promises about moving anywhere. My mom wanted to live in her home as long as she could and I thought I would follow her example, but maybe there is a better way.”

“Oh honey, thanks for having an open mind about this. It will be a fun adventure for us this Spring. This will give us something to look forward to and be like a mini vacation.”

OK, can we have dessert now?

More information on Village at Deaton Creek

A History of Active Adult Communities in USA


AV Homes sent over this interesting graphic about Active Adult Communities. AV Homes is a nationally respected builder of award winning homes and 55+ communities. Founded in in 1970, AC Homes has built over 7,500 homes across the United States. You can find out more about the brand on their website: avhomesinc.com

It points out the Active Adult Community concept is 61 years old but a new generation of Active Adult Living has arrived. That would be for us, fellow baby boomers.

I live in an Active Adult Community and can attest to the great activities and lifestyle that is available. Don’t think you know Active Adult Communities until you go visit and check out firsthand for yourself.

history of active adult community

For more information: AV Homes