Treating late-life insomnia: a case study

Simon S. Smith

in Casebook of clinical geropsychology

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583553
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754678 | DOI:
Treating late-life insomnia: a case study

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  • Psychiatry
  • Geriatric Medicine


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There is a community belief that poor sleep is an inevitable consequence of aging. Although it may be the case that aspects of sleep duration and sleep architecture change with increasing age, satisfaction with sleep quality is still an important aspect of general health and well-being. How might the therapist go about challenging these stereotypical age-related beliefs in patients? In other health professionals?

Medical intervention with sedative-hypnotic medication is by far the most common treatment modality offered to older adults presenting in primary care environments with a sleep complaint. The potential for increased risk for falls, and for driving crashes, that may be associated with sedative-hypnotic use by older adults should always be considered. The potential risks or benefits of adding a sedative-hypnotic drug to an existing medication regime in the case of co-morbid medical conditions should be taken into account. What then are the implications of this for practitioners across a range of settings? 1. It is often important to recruit spouses or partners to assist (or at least not hamper) sleep hygiene and insomnia treatments. In the case presented the wife was a willing partner; what steps might need to be taken if the cooperation of the spouse or partner was not assured? What about the situation of well-meaning friends and family providing advice in contrast to the treatment regime?

Chapter.  9086 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Geriatric Medicine

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