Sleep apnea underreported in nursing homes

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A sample of the medical records of nursing home residents has found that only one-half of 1% of nursing home residents have sleep apnea documented on their medical records.

These findings are in contrast to the many person-to-person studies that show a high rate of sleep apnea among the nursing home population, according to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which recently released the study. Sleep apnea has been linked to bladder control, agitation and cognitive function, says AAHSA, and treating the sleep disorder may be a good first step toward treatment of related conditions.

The report speculates that one reason for the underreporting of sleep apnea in nursing homes may be the misperception on the part of physicians that sleep apnea is a "low priority or low impact condition" among the elderly population. When there are many serious concurrent conditions, physicians may treat sleep apnea as more or less irrelevant.

The Institute for the Future of Aging Services, the research arm of AAHSA, compiled the study. The full report is available at www.futureofaging.org.