Sleep Apnea Can Be Deadly

Many people think of sleep apnea as a mild annoyance, in that the irregular sounds the person with the condition makes while sleeping can disrupt a partner in bed or the sleep apnea can cause the sufferer to wake up gasping for air. The medical profession now realizes that sleep apnea is far more serious than merely something that prevents a good night sleep. Doctors now know that sleep apnea can be deadly.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to such significant conditions as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, liver problems and perhaps even dementia. When an older person has moderate to severe sleep apnea and is extremely sleepy during the day, he is twice as likely to die as someone who is not in that situation.

The vast majority of people who are prime candidates for sleep apnea, have no idea that they are at risk. Sleep specialists say that most people over the age of 65 are at risk for the most common type of sleep apnea, but fewer than 10% of seniors get tested for the condition. People often think that the only ones likely to develop sleep apnea are overweight men who snore, but this is not the case. As we get older, women also develop the risk for the condition.

You Might Have Sleep Apnea If …

It is easier to be aware that you might have sleep apnea, if you have the obvious classic symptoms, like snoring and waking up gasping for air. However, not everyone has these signs. You might want to talk with your primary care doctor if you:

  • Do not feel as alert or clear-headed as you used to
  • Have difficulty focusing
  • Wake up feeling tired
  • Wake up with a headache that goes away as you get into your day

How to Test for Sleep Apnea

A sleep specialist will evaluate your symptoms and determine, if you need to have a sleep study, also called polysomnography, to assess whether you have sleep apnea. There are typically three types of sleep tests, including:

  • The standard sleep test performed overnight at a sleep center. A technician will hook up a computer to sensors on your chest, legs, scalp, temples, and a clip on your finger or ear. The sensors will monitor your heart rate, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, brain waves and eye movements, while you sleep.
  • Some people have difficulty falling asleep at traditional sleep centers, so some of the facilities offer an alternative. They perform sleep studies at hotels, rather than in a sterile laboratory environment.
  • It is possible to do a home test, in which you get a portable monitor from the sleep center and attach it to yourself at home. The center will analyze the results after you return the device. The downside of home testing is that it is far less accurate than the other two options.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Physicians offer many suggestions for treating sleep apnea, including:

  • Avoid alcohol for several hours before bedtime
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine

A CPAP machine works by blowing air into your throat through a mask you wear all night. The machine contains a pump. About one-third of people stop using CPAP devices, because they find the mask uncomfortable or the machine too noisy for them to sleep. Experts urge patients to try different types of masks, since there are several options.


AARP. “Why You Should Take Sleep Apnea Seriously.” (accessed March 21, 2019)


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Have You Prepared Your Family for Your Death?

Napoleon Bonaparte said that most battles are won or lost in the preparation stage, long before the first shot is fired.

MarketWatch’s recent article, “Breaking the taboo: How to prepare your heirs for your death” says that when it comes to retirement, 60s are the new 50s!

This is a critical lesson, when planning for your own death and the related issue of transitioning assets to your family. The majority of estates lose assets—as well as peace within the family—after a transition. That’s because the heirs were unprepared, they didn’t trust each other and communications fell apart.

This preparation should involve making heirs aware of the location of all important estate planning documents and financial assets. They should also have the contact info of your financial professionals and attorney. They should understand how the parents want to deal with end of life and incapacity issues. These are some important questions that will help you see, if your heirs are prepared:

  • Do your children (and their spouses, if any) know your estate plan?
  • Is there a plan to provide certain information sooner and other information at a later time?
  • Has your family read your will and other estate planning documents?
  • Does your family know the family’s net worth?
  • Are your heirs in communication with your attorney, accountant, insurance advisers and investment advisor?

Family battles can easily happen when members don’t believe they’ve been given their fair share and weren’t part of the process. Although it’s important to treat family wealth as a private matter, it should not be private within the family. Good communication between parents and heirs can prevent many issues.

Attaining the optimal degree of knowledge-sharing and family involvement requires its own planning. Family values, as well as current and future goals, should be a part of the entire financial planning process. When done well, financial planning is about much more than investment management. The success of a family wealth transition plan depends on preparing the family for the transition of the family’s wealth and its values.

Reference: MarketWatch (March 7, 2019) “Breaking the taboo: How to prepare your heirs for your death”


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