Even though old age brings with it problems, this does not mean you’re too old to benefit from CPAP therapy if newly diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Never say, “I’m 85, what’s the use,” upon being newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and being told you need CPAP therapy.

Just because the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea isn’t a pill doesn’t mean that you can be too old for CPAP.

Look at it this way: Can you ever be too old for your airway to stop collapsing during sleep? CPAP prevents this.

And unlike many other treatments for other medical conditions, the effect of CPAP is immediate.

The repeated collapses of your airway will cease the first night of CPAP use.

You’re never too old to wake up feeling more refreshed than you have in years.

This information comes from a study that appears in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

The study involved 278 people over age 65 with obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s believed that the prevalence of OSA in elderly people is underestimated because older people, along with their family members, are quick to blame old age for the symptoms that untreated sleep apnea often cause:

• Daytime sleepiness or fatigue

• Excessive napping

• Brain fog

• Frequent overnight trips to the bathroom

Still convinced that CPAP therapy is no use because you’re very old?

Here’s something to consider: Overnight trips to the toilet correlate strongly to fall risk in older people! In fact, this risk is present for all ages.

A large study (Choi et al) showed a striking risk of falls related to sleep interruptions to urinate.

If you think you’re too old to get treated for sleep apnea, ask yourself if you’re also too old for a hip fracture after stumbling in the dark in a half-awake state and crashing to the floor.

Ask yourself if you’re too old to be discovered by your spouse or other family member on your bedroom floor unconscious from a fall.

We all have to die sometime, right? But there is never a good reason to die from a cause that was generated by the foolish decision to reject a highly effective treatment for a serious medical condition.

Untreated sleep apnea often leads to enough daytime grogginess in senior age people that this increases their risk of falls during the day as well.

You cannot win with untreated sleep apnea no matter what your age.

Too Old to Feel Rejuvenated?

Many people over 65 feel rejuvenated after using CPAP therapy; better sleep means better sleep function.

“CPAP is highly effective at reducing the symptoms of OSA,” says Dr. James Davidson, MBChB, a former internal medicine physician and founder of MedCourse.

“The use of CPAP in OSA is highly effective at reducing symptoms of daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, emotional instability and snoring.

“It also has been proven to improve quality of life and reduce the clinical consequences of OSA such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and motor vehicle accidents.6

 “However, for older people with moderate-severe OSA, CPAP has been found to significantly improve their quality of life.7″

  1. Spicuzza L, Caruso D, Di Maria G. “Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and its management.” Ther Adv Chronic Dis Sept 2015;6(5):273-285.
  2. Ponce S, Pastor E, Orosa B et al. “The role of CPAP treatment in elderly patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea: a multicentre randomised controlled trial.” European Respiratory Journal 2019; 54: 1900518.
Dr James Davidson trained at the University of Manchester before working for five years as an internal medicine specialist, Northwest of England. He set up several medical education programs and was a communication tutor for medical students. Dr Davidson has an interest in translating complex medical problems into patient-friendly language and founded the medical education startup MedCourse.
Dr. Bhatia has worked as a respiratory consultant in the Northwest of England since 2006. He is well-published in respiratory medicine journals and books and has senior roles in several medical journals. He has previously worked in the field of sleep medicine and has a special interest in obstructive sleep apnea.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
reuters.com/article/us-health-falls-nocturia/frequent-nighttime-bathroom-trips-tied-to-higher-risk-of-falls-at-all-ages-idUSKBN15A34W sleep apnea old cpap