Diagnosis and management of geriatric insomnia: A guide for nurse practitioners

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Abstract

Purpose

To discuss the assessment, diagnosis, and management of geriatric insomnia, a challenging clinical condition of older adults frequently seen by primary care providers.

Data sources

Extensive literature review of the published research articles and textbooks.

Conclusions

Complaints of insomnia among older adults are frequently ignored, considered a part of the normal aging process or viewed as a difficult to treat condition. Geriatric insomnia remains a challenge for primary care providers because of the lack of evidence-based clinical guidelines and limited treatment options available. Effective management of this condition is necessary for improved quality of life, which is a primary issue for the elderly and their families. Therefore, geriatric insomnia warrants thorough attention from the nurse practitioners (NPs) who provide care for older adults.

Implications for practice

Undiagnosed or under treated insomnia can cause increased risk for falls, motor vehicle accidents, depression, and shorter survival. Insomniacs double their risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and suicide compared to their counterparts. Insomnia is also associated with increased healthcare utilization and institutionalization. NPs could play a central role in reducing the negative consequences of insomnia through a systematic approach for diagnosis, evaluation, and management.

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