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.

Boomers: Accept The Aging Process – A Little Humor Will Help

As a change of life baby, I was surrounded by older adults.  I was shy therefore I did a lot of listening while older folks told stories.  Also it gave much time to think about their age. I wondered how it would be like to be like them.  Well here I am.

Aging is a process that we all go through.  There is no stopping it.  We boomers just need to accept it.  I use my sense of humor to do this.  One day as a young child I asked my mom why she had so many freckles.  Her reply was, “Someday you will know.”  Well I know now.  Back in my 40’s I noticed freckles all over my arms.  I am here to tell you they have spread.  There is even a few on my face.  A friend of mine was seeing  an old down home doctor who was burning his off.    Now of course I had to inform him that he had  age spots.  We all get them.   There are many skin creams that help turn back the clock on aging and help fade them a bit but I just let mine do their thing because it is just a part of aging.

I have spent a lot of money at health clubs but my upper portion of the body seemed to go with gravity. The sports bra is certainly not the most appealing under garment when one is in that shape.  At least the stores have alternatives like lift and separate.  I do find those under wires are very uncomfortable.  At first I was rather shocked by this condition but gravity takes over as we age.  Some people go for breast implants and tummy tucks but I am not into pain.  So that is just not for me.  There are many professional cosmetic surgery physicians that specialize in plastic surgery and it might be a choice for some.

Now how about those eye lashes.  In my younger years everyone complimented me on my beautiful baby blue seductive Betty Davis eyes.  I recently noticed that my eye lashes have started disappearing.  There is nothing much left to put the lash lengthening mascara on any more.  Oh well, there is always sun glasses in the summer time. Beside that who needs make up.  The natural look is the in thing and more important is that I have eye site.  Hair loss is another aging process.  They do make the nice wrinkle cream fillers but it feels like wearing pancake dough.  I found a sure fire remedy for the eye brows.  Mine turned white therefore I  use a nice eye brow pencil to paint on a little color.  There is always a reason to be grateful.  We just have to reverse our thinking.  Science is always coming up with new things to help us to do that.  Of course we want to look our best.  Doesn’t every woman?  Age gives us wisdom as to how and when to make choices.

Now I know we don’t talk about it but it is all over television in the commercials.  There are many sales ads for Depends, gels and etc. Urinary incontinence is a bladder condition after menopause but can be corrected by surgical procedures if one chooses for a better quality of life. Men don’t think I am going to leave you out.  How about all those  commercials where the elderly couples are floating around in sexual bliss. Erectile Dysfunction can be caused by  prostate problems and other reasons related to age. I knew a fellow that took those pills but then his face turned red, had rapid heart beat and always got a terrible headache.  Again one must know that men with heart problems, pacemakers and such should avoid taking medicines for this condition.  Always consult with your physician and allow him to suggest your best alternatives. Make sure you read the label on side effects.  Now on the positive side though it brings back the act of holding hands and cuddling on those cold winter nights.  It is nothing new.  Everyone ages.  It is like the weather.  We can’t change it but we can change our attitude about it and seek help with our problems.  Always consult with your medical insurance companies to see if you have coverage for any procedures that you might need.

I use to walk 5 miles every day to stay fit.  I still walk.  The only difference is that I go at a much slower pace.  When my knees start crackling like rice krispies then I just snap my fingers and appreciate the fact that I can still walk.  A good stretch feels so good.  It also helps my friend Arthur, the name I have given to my arthritic aches and pains.  The Arthritis Association and your physician can suggest the proper means of treatment so that you can enjoy your retirement years.

Now back in the day, I noticed the older folks talked a lot about their bowels.  Then I went into the health care field and found out that was a big topic. It is one of the leading complaints in the Dr’s. office.  It was either constipation or diarrhea.  So there you go again.  Another reason to eat the right foods, drink water and  exercise.  It saves money too because those over the counter medicines can become pretty expensive.  If you are having any of these symptoms see your physician.  There could be bowel blockage or caused from many things like irritable bowel syndrome.  Don’t give up.  There are medicines and treatments out there.  We have fought before and we can still do it.

Feet can be a  big issue.  I remember the high heel spike shoes but that is just a memory.  Now I am so grateful for Dr. Scholl’s and the comfy sports shoes.   Just look at feet next time you go out.  Men have adapted to the sports shoes just fine instead of the designer pointed toed boots.  Plus look around we are right in style. I am so grateful for the pedicure places.  Whatever happened to those nice natural smooth feeling baby soft feet.   Don’t hesitate to see a foot doctor because again there may be underlying problems that can be corrected and improve your quality of living.

Watch out ladies and men for those hair colors on the market.  Make sure you do a strain test.  It may say it covers gray and white but I am here to tell you don’t expect too much.  I have a cosmetology license so it is a completely different subject to cover a full head of white/ gray hair.  Again though there are many good new and improved products that are coming out everyday for us. Now men, don’t worry because bald is now beautiful.  Please men just accept the aging process.  Combing ones hair from back to front and down is not very cool.  Also those hair pieces can be a drag.  I dated a fella once and didn’t know he wore one.  I almost cut a finger on a hair pin when I started to run my fingers through his hair.  Just think with less hair how much cooler you will be with vacationing in that nice tropical beach paradise.  Don’t forget the sun screen.  Those rays can be damaging to the skin.

Now may I suggest regular visits to the dentist with good dental hygiene and flossing.  When the dentist tells you this then listen up.  Another fellow I dated gave me a shocker when I found his choppers sitting in a cup smiling at me on my bathroom sink.  Gum disease can be prevented also as we age.  We just have to work hard at keeping healthy as possible.  Some things we can’t prevent and we will just have to  accept.  We can develop a coping skill that is positive and not give up. Sometimes we may not like certain things but we have the ability to accept them.

Now, I have gotten a little carried away here folks rambling on and on.  The point I am trying to make is, be good to yourself.  Accept the aging process.  Practice good health.  Accept your body as it is.  Accept and love yourself as you are.  Aging is a part of life that we ALL go through.  We can fight it or accept it as we enjoy the years that we have.  We can laugh or we can cry.  That’s a choice.  I like to laugh myself but a cry now and then helps to when it is needed.  It is okay to show feelings.  We are aging and that is totally normal.  I have found myself crying while watching a movie.  You might call it sensitive or you might just call it freedom to express a feeling.  Change is change and it always will be.  Love yourself and in turn love others. Smile and treat yourself with love and respect.  Guess what?  Those that love you will love you just as you are and those that don’t, don’t matter anyway.  Get out there folks.  Be who you are.  Exercise that mind.  Focus on what you can change and let the other stuff go.  Focus more on what you can change instead of wasting time on worrying about things that you have no power to change.  Challenge life as life challenges you.   Enjoy the journey with a cheerful spirit!  We are boomers and boomers don’t quit.  Worrying only zaps us of the energy that we need to enjoy our much due boomer years.  It is time to have real fun, freedom and some well deserved relaxation time.  So lets stroll into that over 55 retirement community and meet others just like us and play golf tennis, fish and let it all hang out.  Don’t worry about the young folks understanding.  They will be in our shoes someday.  It is your time to enjoy life right now.

Baby Boomers Health

Georgia Golden Olympics | Warner Robins GA

Georgia Golden Olympics
Warner Robins GA

This past week I went down to Warner Robins GA to the Georgia Golden Olympics games to participate in the 1500 meter race walk in hopes of qualifying for the National Senior Games in Minneapolis MN in July 2015.

The Georgia Golden Olympics are held every year in September down in the middle Georgia city of Warner Robins, home of Robins Airbase.

This year those who participate and come in at the top four positions qualify for the National Senior Games which are only held every other year. 2014 is the qualifying year at the state level for the 2015 National Senior Games.

We only spend Thursday PM and left Friday PM but did get to see several events.

On Thursday our first stop was the Warner Robins Senior Activity Center where we registered and saw the list of people who would be competing in my event on Friday. We got a T-shirt and other items in a welcome package.

Next we headed over to Robins High School’s McConnell-Talbert Stadium on nearby S. Davis Drive where a lot of the Track and Field events were being held.

Track and Fields Events
Track and Fields Events

We spent some time watching the high jump where both male and female contests had a friendly but competitive match. It amazed me how high they were jumping.  I saw more than a few ace bandages and ice packs.

High Jumpers at Georgia Golden Olympics
High Jumpers at Georgia Golden Olympics

I got to check out the impressive track where I would be race walking the next day.

On Friday morning I got up early and was one of the first ones to arrive at the stadium for Jim Norvill’s race walking seminar.

Jim Norvill Race Walk Clinc
Jim Norvill Race Walk Clinc

I stayed to watch and photograph the 5K race walk. There were about 11 contestants ranging from seasoned veterans to a new comer or two.

5K Race Walk - Georgia Golden Olympics
5K Race Walk – Georgia Golden Olympics

These race walkers really put a lot in to the contest which is about 3.1 miles or little over 12 times around the track. Several of the same race walkers would be coming back at 1pm for the 1500 meter race walk that I had signed up for.

Race Walkers pass by Judge Jim Norvill
Race Walkers pass by Judge Jim Norvill

I stopped by the Senior Activity Center again to check things out and met Ms. Vicki Pilgrim who was directing these games and doing an excellent job keeping track of so many things going on with the events and people.

After picking up my wife Mary Ann, checking out of the Hampton Inn on Watson Blvd and getting a bite to eat,  we headed over to the stadium to watch the 100 meter dash. I ran in to a fellow I had met back in Alpharetta training at the Old Milton High School.  He is 80 years old and had won the 50 meter dash the day before and I watched him win the gold in the 100 meter race too.  He did it faster than I could have and I am only a baby at age 68. He’s the gentleman at the top right in while shirt in the photo below.

100 Meters Race at Georgia Senior Games
100 Meters Race at Georgia Senior Games

Mary Ann’s brother Mike and wife Diane were nice enough to come watch me compete at 1pm in the 1500 race walk. I was uncertain as to how it would be going since I had only been race walking for two months and had hurt my hip a week before.  I did good and came in second in my age group winning the silver and qualifying myself for the National Senior Games. I think I may just make the trip to Minnesota for the National’s next year.

Robert Fowler Silver Medal 1500M Race Walk
Robert Fowler Silver Medal 1500M Race Walk

While getting my medal engraved back at the senior activity center I stood in line with other medal winners and we shared our excitement and stories.  One lady (pictured below) had won several medals in shot put, discuss, race walking and others and is also planning on going to the nationals.

Medal winner Georgia Golden Olympics
Medal winner Georgia Golden Olympics

 

“Others won medals in swimming, cycling, golf, pickleball, basketball, table tennis and horseshoes.”

We made the ride back to Atlanta tired but happy that I had won a medal. I would have loved to stay longer and participated in and viewed more of the competitions. Maybe next year I will stay two nights instead of one.

The registration is not open yet for the Nationals but when they do open this Fall, I will be planning my trip. This will be a great incentive for me to continue my race walking hobby and really improve my technique,  speed and endurance.  I plan to enter the 1500 meters and the 5K race walks. They are on two consecutive days so that will work out fine.

I have been to Minneapolis before to attend a conference but my wife never has been there. Attending the Nationals will be a good excuse to have a vacation getaway for us.

For more information on the National’s, visit their web site at National Senior Games Association.  For more information on Race Walking, visit Jim Norvill’s excellent site eRaceWalk.com.

Boomers Participate in Senior Games

1500M medal winners all categories
1500M medal winners all categories