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Sleepless Nights Plague Assisted Living Residents

Poor sleep tied to quality of life, depression, study says

FRIDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Poor sleep is common among elderly people who live in assisted living facilities, a new study found.

This lack of sleep is associated with declining quality of life and increased depression.

Many older adults move into an assisted living facility (ALF) when they're no longer able to live independently but do not require the level of care provided in a nursing home. ALFs typically provide meals, housekeeping and personal care assistance.

In this study, U.S. researchers examined the sleep habits of 121 residents of ALFs in the Los Angeles area and found they slept an average of six hours per night and 1.5 hours during the day. About 65 percent suffered significant sleeping problems, including waking up in the middle of the night or early morning (60.3 percent) and trouble falling asleep within 30 minutes (59.5 percent).

Poor sleep was associated with lower health-related quality of life, the need for more help with basic daily tasks (such as dressing, grooming and bathing), and symptoms of depression.

"We cannot conclude that poor sleep truly causes these negative changes; however, future studies should evaluate ways to improve sleep in ALFs to see if sleeping better might improve the quality of life, delay functional decline and reduce the risk of depression," lead author Jennifer Martin, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, said in a news release.

The study was published May 7 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about sleep and aging.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, news release, May 7, 2010

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