Springing our clocks forward left many of us feeling sluggish from losing that extra hour of sleep. But before long, our bodies have adjusted to the time change and life goes on. Imagine, however, feeling exhausted and lethargic almost all of the time, regardless of how much you sleep. Extreme fatigue in seniors is a troublesome reality and can be tough to overcome.
- Medical conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular illnesses, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep disorders
- Depression, anxiety, and grief
- Boredom and loneliness
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet, too little physical activity, or too much alcohol
There are some strategies senior adults can try in order to regain energy throughout the day. A great starting point is starting a fatigue diary and writing down the times every day when the fatigue is most impactful. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon waking up? After an extended period of watching TV? After taking particular medications?
Understanding the patterns of fatigue often helps pinpoint the cause, and then see if some of these strategies help alleviate it:
- Schedule a medical checkup. Bring the older adult’s fatigue journal with you and review it together with his or her doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and offer recommendations to help.
- Create – and stick to – an exercise regimen. Physical activity strengthens the lungs, heart, and muscles while boosting mood, appetite, and general outlook on life.
- Skip naps during the day. This can be very problematic for someone who has chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, particularly later in the afternoon or early evening, will help promote an improved night’s sleep.
- Stop smoking immediately. Smoking can cause a variety of medical problems that diminish energy levels. A doctor can help with an older adult’s nicotine addiction as needed.
- Seek professional counseling. Talking through life’s challenges with a licensed professional therapist is a great way to minimize stress, often resulting in improved sleep patterns. The therapist can also recommend calming techniques like mindfulness, meditation, prayer, or deep breathing exercises that any senior adult can do at home.
It is worthwhile to know that the foods aging adults consume can play a significant role in fatigue levels. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins, says, “Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy.” Fresh, whole foods are best, along with those containing vitamin B12, found in nondairy fortified milks and animal proteins.
Let an expert Rockport caregiver from Anthem Home Care help a senior loved one with chronic fatigue. We can ensure that medications are taken correctly, prepare healthy and balanced meals, provide motivation to stay physically active, and offer friendly companionship all along the way. Call us for a free in-home consultation at 361-643-2323 for additional details on how our services can provide a sunnier outlook on life for older adults at home. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please see our Service Area page.