Chronic fatigue in seniors is common, but not a normal part of aging, so should always be addressed by a senior’s medical team.
There is no doubt that everyone gets tired, depleted of energy, and weary at times, but most of us will recover after a good night’s sleep or even a daytime power nap. As we age, our endurance may decline, causing us to reach the point of fatigue faster or not move as quickly as we once did, but fatigue should not inhibit seniors from enjoying an active and engaged life.
If chronic fatigue is affecting you or a senior you love, it is important to see your medical team to discuss the cause of the depletion and address any medical or emotional conditions that may be contributing to the issue. There are many reasons for chronic fatigue in seniors to develop, including:
- Sleep problems – There are multiple sleep-related issues that contribute to chronic fatigue in seniors, including overactive bladder or enlarged prostate, which cause repeated trips to the bathroom throughout the night, and restless leg syndrome. Sleep apnea can often affect the sleep quality of seniors and those who are overweight.
- Chronic conditions – Hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can all negatively affect the quality and quantity of sleep a person receives.
- Anemia – Anemia occurs when a person’s blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells. This can result in fatigue, energy loss, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, dizziness, and fast heartbeat.
- Medication – There are many medications that have drowsiness as a side effect which can contribute to chronic fatigue. Check with your doctor, especially if there has been a recent dosage change or new medication added.
- Depression, anxiety or grief – Mental health issues can drain energy levels and affect sleep quality.
- Medical treatments – Recovering from major surgery, and undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation can significantly impact fatigue levels and sleep quality.
When a senior begins to experience bouts of exhaustion, or loses his or her motivation to stay engaged throughout the day, these tips can help to recover some energy in combination with working with the senior’s medical team to get to the bottom of the root issues:
- Journal – Keeping a fatigue diary can help identify patterns of fatigue that can be shared with your medical team.
- Exercise – Taking a short walk outside or engaging in another form of moderate exercise can help increase energy, appetite, and outlook.
- Take short naps – A mid-day nap that lasts for 2-30 minutes can provide additional energy that doesn’t negatively impact nighttime sleep. Avoid naps later in the day and naps that last longer than 40 minutes.
- Drink more water and less caffeine – Staying hydrated can help maintain energy throughout the day, and while one cup of coffee or tea may be fine, more can contribute to restlessness at night.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco – Both alcohol and smoking can negatively impact sleep.
Visiting Care Giving Services’ professionally trained caregivers enjoy working with senior clients to help them stay engaged and active in life. We can help by offering companionship, transportation services, medication reminders, and so much more. Contact us at (636) 493-9058 for a free in-home assessment to find out more about our senior solutions in St. Charles and throughout the surrounding areas.