If your father is over sixty, overweight, and a snorer, chances are good he has sleep apnea. Chances are also good that he already has a CPAP and just doesn’t use it. 

Sleep apnea is a dangerous, but common condition, where the patient wakes up several times a night, sometimes hundreds of times a night, gasping for air because he quit breathing.  

The first line of treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine. This device pushes air down the throat so as to create a continuous stream of air into the lungs. The user keeps breathing, and he stays asleep because he isn’t suffocating. 

Many women get sleep apnea, but it is much more common among men.  


Here Are All The Reasons Dad Won’t Use His CPAP

Caregiver Towson, MD: CPAP and Seniors

Unfortunately, people over sixty can be really resistant to using their CPAPs. According to one study, only 31.5 percent of older people could be persuaded to use their prescribed CPAP.  

Is dad just being ornery? Maybe not. CPAPs can be really uncomfortable for some people, causing dryness in the nasal passages, throat, and mouth. And it takes a while to get used to them.  

However, people who do persist in using their CPAPs find that they get used to the noise and the weird pressure. These folks often say their sleep is vastly improved and they don’t know how they lived without a CPAP.  


So here are a few of the reasons your father (or mother) is resistant: 

Poor education  

Doctors who work with sleep apnea patients need to be transparent about how much time it takes to find the right machine, the right mask, and the right settings. Finding the right mask, in particular, is critical to comfort and acceptance of the device.  

Treating sleep apnea with a CPAP is almost always a matter of trial and error. This is an interactive process to which every patient has to commit, in order to treat a treatable condition. Helping your father understand and accept that it’s a process, not an instant cure, may help him find the right CPAP.  

Poor training on the machine 

Patients also need to understand how to adjust the settings on their machines. Starting out, most patients need to use a much lower pressure, just to get accustomed to sleeping with a device on their faces. Gradually, they then build up the air pressure until they get a good night’s sleep.  


Poor equipment  

The best CPAPS are the ones with humidifiers and adjustable temperatures. The humidifier offsets the drying effect. The temperature controls make the patient much more comfortable. No one should be accused of not trying hard enough unless his CPAP is up-to-date. 


Poor transportation  

In order to use a CPAP successfully, dad typically has to go through the following steps: 


  1. Undergoing a sleep study. 
  2. Seeing a sleep specialist about the results. 
  3. Going home with a “test CPAP.” 
  4. Going back to the doctor and complaining about the test CPAP, especially the mask. 
  5. Trying out a new CPAP mask. 
  6. Studying the CPAP brochure and guessing which mask might be more comfortable.  
  7. Going back to the doctor and demanding a different mask.  


If dad is no longer driving, that’s a lot of doctor’s visits to broker. Caregivers need to plan for the amount of transportation that a diagnosis of sleep apnea involves. 


Home Care to the Rescue  

Home care aides, who provide transportation to and from the doctor and various specialists, can make a huge difference. When your father or mother understands that getting back to the doctor to try out a new CPAP mask is not going to be a big deal, the reluctance to keep trying may vanish. 

In conclusion, sleep apnea is a serious condition. Untreated, it can cause daytime drowsiness, loss of sleep, and confusion. At the worst end of the spectrum it can cause a fatal heart attack or stroke. The treatment for sleep apnea, however, is well established, safe, and drug free. Overcoming a senior’s reluctance to his CPAP may be a matter of helping him better understand how to use the machine, upgrading the machine, and explaining the process.  

If you or an aging loved-one is considering a Caregiver in Townson, MD please contact the caring staff at Help at Home Services, LLC today. (443) 275-1524