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My mom finally got a CPAP. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with this, or tips for getting her to use it. She's 87, lives in Independent Living Facility, has very bad ST memory but neurologist says she has normal cognitive function but she gets very confused with admin tasks at times.


Her GP rec'd the sleep study for her blood pressure issues (also Stage 3 kidney disease), she finally had it done, study indicated she should get the CPAP, insurance is paying for the AirSense10 from ResMed. It seems very quiet and nice and she got the comfy nasal pillows, too.


I'm thinking of getting her to use it while watching tv, for starters. Looks like there are compliance rules for Medicare/insurance to continue to cover the cost, so I want to be efficient and effective in how we do this but I live 2 hours away and my bro lives 40 min away. We visit about once a week. The in-house Medical Team has said they can help her with it, so we will try that, too.


Is it possible to not use the attached humidifier? I'm going to check. I think that has to be re-filled daily with DISTILLED water, and that is going to add to the confusion. If it's not 100% necessary, maybe we will start without that step?

I worked in Sleep Medicine for years. IMO at her age and with cognitive decline CPAP is not a battle worth fighting. People far younger and far healthier than her struggle with them, and often can never get used to them.

But to answer your questions, you don't need the humidifier, especially if you live in a humid enviornment. Even if you live in a desert it's optional, its more of a comfort thing to keep the throat moist (cpap will cause dry mouth regardless of a humidifier or not, but it does help). Getting used to the feel of one while watching tv is a good strategy.

We used to say you need to take it out and get to know it before taking it to bed.

I'm not trying to downplay the massive negative health effects OSA can have over time, but the patient's age and overall health should be taken into account. She likely has relatively little time left if she's in her late 80's, and no amount of medical equipment or treatments in the world can hold off the inevitable.

I took me MONTHS to get used to it, and I was in my 30s and working at a Sleep Center at the time.
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My mother's pulmonologist recommended a CPAP machine for her after she had pleural effusion. We just laughed, because we knew there was no way in h*ll she'd use it. (You do NOT mess with my mother's sleep!) He said she'd likely die without it.

He was right -- she will die without it. We never got the CPAP for her, and she's still alive seven years later, but yes, she will die without it. I can't tell you when, though.

Leave your mom alone if she won't use it. She's at an age where you want to pick your battles, and you need to pick the ones you can win. If this contraption needs all the cleaning and distilled water, and so forth and you're two hours away, it isn't going to happen.
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MomsBrain Jul 8, 2021
I agree with picking battles, but what she doesn't understand, and I am so afraid of - is the potential MASSIVE decline in her quality of life, which we have worked so hard to maintain, if she had a stroke and DIDN'T DIE - I keep telling her she could end up in a wheel chair and/or nursing home if that happens. But she doesn't get how the CPAP connects to that possibility.

I know I need to accept this and pick my battles and preserve her dignity but I just think she should "try a little harder" before we let her give up. I feel like a parent in saying this, and I know she's not a child and needs her dignity but I feel like we would be negligent in not at least trying to do something that could save her a lot of FUTURE discomfort, to say the least.
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I am a retired respiratory therapist who put on hundreds of patients at night. I will try to answer some questions for you.
It is not necessary for water or heat if the patient is comfortable with cool dry air. Since she uses a nasal mask, her body will add some of her own moisture. So give it a try. Distilled water is needed if she needs the humidifier. I have seen home machines with crusty scale and even green algae growth for those who use tap water or do not properly air dry.

You are correct that the machines record nightly use and if she does not use it long enough, insurance will have the cpap removed. Some insurance companies had them removed permanently.

If this happens, return to the doctor to see if she qualifies for home oxygen at night. This will be another sleep test unless her original study tested for oxygen. It may or may not resolve the BP issues and again she needs to put it on at bedtime.

Lastly, about 1 in 3 people absolutely find it uncomfortable to wear. Add the MCI which will transition to memory loss. No matter if I put my patients on at night, I would return and find that the patient took it off repeatedly within 5 minutes. This is the memory loss speaking to you about her compliance. You could have a disconnect alarm set on the machine but it too will become an annoyance every few minutes.

Snice she is on nasal pillows indicates that her required settings are not too high. If it was a full face mask, then CPAP becomes more important
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MomsBrain Jul 8, 2021
Thank you. This is helpful. We're still trying to get her to use it.
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