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What Causes Fatigue in Seniors?

What Causes Fatigue in Seniors

What Causes Fatigue in Seniors

Most people feel tired at some point in the day. However, after they’ve gotten some rest, the tiredness usually goes away, and they feel ready for the day. If the tiredness does not go away after a few consecutive weeks, you need to see a doctor for an exam and further testing to figure out what may be causing the fatigue.

There are many reasons seniors experience fatigue. It may be due to lack of sleep or physical exercise, worry and anxiousness, pain in their joints, or due to an underlying condition.

Here are some common physical reasons seniors feel fatigued:

  • Illness

Certain illnesses cause fatigue in seniors. For example, rheumatoid arthritis causes pain in joints and can cause fatigue. Those who have cancer can feel tired due to medications and treatments they may be going through.

  • Medications

Antidepressants, antihistamines, and pain medicines can cause fatigue.

  • Medical treatments

Certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation or recovering from surgery can cause fatigue symptoms.

  • Infections

If a senior is suffering from an infection, they can experience fatigue. If they suspect that they have an infection, they should consult a doctor and seek treatment.

  • Chronic Diseases

If a senior is suffering from a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, liver or thyroid disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), they may experience fatigue.

  • Pain and Fibromyalgia

Some seniors experience pain and leave it untreated or may even have symptoms of fibromyalgia which causes fatigue.

  • Anemia

Anemia is a deficiency of healthy red blood cells in the blood. This condition may cause weakness and fatigue. If a senior is suffering from this condition, they should see their doctor for treatment.

  • Sleep apnea & sleep disorders

If a senior is having trouble sleeping due to sleep apnea or a sleep disorder, they should seek help from a specialist to avoid fatigue.

Seniors may experience fatigue due to their mental state. If they are not managing their mental and emotional health well, they may need help from a doctor.

Here are some common reasons seniors experience fatigue due to their mental or emotional state:

  • Anxiety

Worrying about their future, financial situation, or any other problem can cause seniors to have anxiety. If this state starts causing fatigue, they should seek help from their doctor.

  • Depression

A state of constant sadness and not seeing a way out may be a sign that a senior is in a depressed state. They should seek help from a health professional to get the condition treated.

  • Grief due to loss of a family member or friend

Losing someone close is difficult, but for a senior, it may be even tougher. For example, losing a spouse or a long-term friend can be devastating. If the grieving process is prolonged and they are in a depressed state and constantly experiencing fatigue, they should seek help from their doctor.

  • Financial or personal problems

If a senior is experiencing financial or personal problems, they should talk to their family members or friends so that they can find a solution and not feel alone.

As seniors retire and get older, they may feel like they’ve lost control over their life. They may feel not needed as they no longer work and provide for their family. In this case, seniors should seek to keep themselves busy with hobbies or volunteering in their communities.

If seniors do not get enough sleep, they may feel fatigued. Getting enough physical activity during the day can help them get better sleep. It will also eliminate feelings of depression and improve their overall mood. Depending on their level of physical readiness, seniors can experiment with yoga, meditation, and cognitive therapy or simply getting more rest.

Some other common reasons seniors feel fatigued are due to their lifestyle. Here are some examples:

  • Staying up late

It is important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This will help them feel awake and refreshed throughout the day.

  • Consuming too much caffeine

Consuming caffeinated drinks such as coffee or soda throughout the day and later in the day can prevent good nigh sleep for seniors. It should always be avoided in the evening.

  • Consuming too much alcohol

Alcohol can change their behavior and should be avoided in general as it may interact with medications.

  • Consuming junk food

Seniors should avoid consuming foods with high sugar and fat content as they cause fatigue. The focus of their diet should be more whole and nutritious foods so they can have energy throughout the day.

  • Too little or too much exercise

Getting regular exercise is crucial for seniors as it helps increase their energy levels. However, seniors should always consult their doctor on the type and amount of exercise they should do so it can be customized for their age and fitness level.

Boredom can be another culprit that causes fatigue in seniors. As seniors retire and age further, they sometimes stop being active. The days become long with no errands or specific things they could do to occupy their time. If a senior is experiencing fatigue due to being bored, you should encourage them to do activities they enjoy. This can range from knitting and scrapbooking to volunteering. Based on the skills they have; the local community can direct them to volunteering opportunities that are available in their area.

 If your senior family member or friend is experiencing fatigue and looking for ways to feel less tired, here are some suggestions:

  • Writing out a fatigue diary can be helpful

Seniors can keep track of their fatigue levels throughout the day in a notebook. This will help them see when they feel the most tired and why. If the fatigue continues for a few weeks with no improvement, they should seek medical help.

  • Getting regular exercise is important

Based on their physical fitness and activity level, seniors can consult their doctor about the type of exercise they can do so they can keep active. This helps improve mood, appetite, and physical and mental well-being.

  • Long naps should be avoided

Long naps later in the day should be avoided as they can affect sleep patterns. The goal should be to get regular sleep at night.

  • Smoking should be avoided

Smoking causes many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems and can also cause a lack of energy.

  • Seeking help when overwhelmed

If the senior is feeling swamped with tasks and they feel like they can’t do it all on their own, they should seek the help of family members and friends.

If a senior has experienced fatigue for more than a few weeks, they should seek medical help. The doctor will do a physical examination and bloodwork to determine if there is an underlying reason for the prolonged fatigue. It is always good to follow a good diet and exercise regimen to ensure the most optimal health.

Finally, in more extreme cases seniors may experience chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This condition causes fatigue for six months or longer and those affected by the condition have a difficult time functioning daily. This condition can cause very severe fatigue and issues with sleep, memory, dizziness, and sore throat among other conditions.

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