Although narcolepsy in the elderly always influences the quality of their life negatively and is at times incapacitating, it is not a fatal condition. It can be treated by administration of proper medications along with natural treatments and therapies.
However, not much information pertaining to the diagnosis and treatment of this neurological disorder in the ageing population of patients has been published till date. Majority of research papers on this subject point to the fact that the onset of the symptoms of narcolepsy after the age of 55 years is a very rare. But, in a few instances, the onset of narcoleptic symptoms has been observed even after the age of 70 years.
Sadly, in case of aged narcoleptics without cataplexy, the diagnosis is often delayed significantly. Failure to diagnose the disorder at the right age is the main underlying cause of narcolepsy in majority of patients above the age of 35 years. Narcolepsy onset in a patient after the age of 45 years is believed to be strongly linked to a number of neurophysiologic illness and disorders, like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and brain injury, and is hence, appropriately called Secondary Narcolepsy.
According to a recent estimate, in the ageing narcolepsy patient population in the US, 51percent are above the age of 40 years, out of which nearly 43percent are in their fifties, 24percent in their sixties, and 14 percent in their late seventies. Akin to the condition in younger patients, narcolepsy in the elderly is marked by common symptoms, such as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), cataplexy or recurring weakness of muscles induced by emotional stimulus, and disturbances in nocturnal sleeping patterns. As the elderly people already go through usual age-related alterations in their daytime and nocturnal sleeping patterns, some of the narcoleptic symptoms get worsened in these patients.
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