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Self-Care

"Tossin' and Turnin' All Night!" – Poor Sleep Not a Normal Part of Aging


Insomnia is a common problem that warrants increased attention from doctors who care for older adults, researchers say.

The study presents a five-step approach to diagnose and manage insomnia in these patients. Iffollowed, data shows that doctors could help to reduce sleep disturbances in the geriatric population.

The steps include:

    (1) detection through asking patients questions,

    (2) elaboration of the problem,

    (3) determining if there is a medical or psychiatric emergency,

    (4) further evaluation of chronic insomnia, if present, and

    (5) intervention, which can include pharmacological treatment.

"The perception of sleeping poorly, coupled with daytime sequelae such as fatigue or irritability, is cause for seeking medical help," said Dr. W. Vaughn McCall, MS, author of an article about the study that was published in a special insomnia-themed supplement of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

"Failure to address insomnia could lead to bad outcomes, such as clinical depression. Insomnia can be cause by numerous factors, but can be treated successfully either through lifestyle and behavioral changes or through medications," said McCall.

Dr. McCall is affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society publishes articles that are relevant in the broadest terms to the clinical care of older persons.

For more information on the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Wake Forest University Health Sciences visit www.wfubmc.edu or for more information on the American Geriatrics Society, visit www.americangeriatrics.org.


© 2005 Health Resources Publishing