Chronic Fatigue in Older Adults: Uncovering the Symptoms and Improving Daily Energy

Chronic Fatigue in Older Adults: Symptoms and How to Help

We’ve all experienced the exhaustion that hits us at the end of an especially hectic day. Typically, this can be remedied by a good night’s sleep, allowing us to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the new day. Yet chronic fatigue in older adults takes exhaustion to a whole new level, causing lethargic feelings that are more difficult to alleviate.

What causes chronic fatigue?

A variety of health conditions and even the treatments for those conditions can cause or exacerbate chronic fatigue, including:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Grief
  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • COPD
  • Thyroid disease
  • Chemotherapy and radiation
  • Medications for pain or nausea as well as antihistamines and antidepressants
  • And more

What can be done to help?

Lifestyle choices can either help or worsen chronic fatigue in older adults. For instance, avoid:

  • Not getting enough sleep: Strive for at least 8 hours per night, regularly going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Consuming too much caffeine: Limit caffeine intake, and skip caffeine altogether later in the day. Consider cutting current caffeine intake in half to improve energy levels.
  • Unhealthy eating habits: Choose more nutritious foods, such as whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits and veggies over highly processed foods and junk foods.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: The right amount of physical activity is key; talk with the doctor for recommendations, but typically, the goal is 30 minutes of exercise most days.
  • Smoking: Smoking can cause a variety of serious health concerns which further drain energy. Talk to a physician about getting help with quitting smoking.

Staying productive and engaged is also crucial to preventing or lessening chronic fatigue in older adults. Explore activities that spark interest and joy, such as:

  • Volunteering in a field of interest: at the local elementary school, homeless shelter, pet rescue facility, religious organization, etc.
  • Taking a class to learn something new at the community college or even online
  • Joining a club or group that participates in shared interests: bowling, knitting, fishing, walking, swimming, etc.

It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment for a check-up if chronic fatigue is suspected. The doctor can rule out any new underlying conditions, review medications being taken and modify if needed, and provide additional tips to help.

The referred care providers from American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care are here to help as well. Their in-home care services may include transportation to and from medical appointments or fun outings, preparing nutritious meals, running errands, friendly companionship to offer motivation to stay active and engaged, and much more.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help a senior you love live a better quality of life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:

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