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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 1999 November-December;90(11-12):421-8


language: Italian

Sleep disorders in the elderly

Zanocchi M., Ponzetto M., Spada S., Risso R., Aimar T., Maero B., Giona E., Fabris F.


Objectives. The aim of the study was the assessment of prevalence and risk factors of sleep disorders in the elderly. Methods. The study sample consisted of a group of instituzionalized elderly, from two university affiliated community nursing homes in Turin. The following subjects were excluded: a) those aged less than 65 years; b) had length of stay less than thirty days; c) were not able to communicate because of severe aphasia or severe hearing loss and d) had cognitive impairment based on the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ) >5. A total of 88 subjects (65-102 ys; 24 male and 64 female) have been studied. Comorbidity was measured using the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation scale (APACHE), disability using the index of Activity Daily Living (ADL), depressive symptoms using the Geriatic Depression Scale (GDS); sleep quality was determined using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the subjective health by the Self-Rated Health (SRH) was also evaluated. Results. Using the PSQI questionnaire, 70 subjects (79.5%) were identified as ''poor sleepers'' (PSQI >5). They complained of difficulties in getting sleep (85.7%) and frequent awakening (75.7%). The most common causes of sleep disturbances were nicturia (51.4%), cough (38.6%) and pain (32.9%). Insomnia correlated with depressive symptoms, poor physical activity, number of medications and bad self-rated health. Conclusion. Sleep disorders probably are due to physical, psychological or ambient factors. The identification and correction of treatable causes of insomnia are relevant for improving the quality of sleep and health in the elderly.

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