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 the elderly is a frustrating reality and can be challenging to overcome.
- Health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep disorders
- Depression, anxiety, and grief
- Loneliness and boredom
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet, inadequate physical activity, or too much alcohol
There are a number of strategies that older adults can try to regain their energy throughout the day. A good starting point is writing down the times each day when the fatigue feels most impactful. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting up? Following an extended period of watching TV? After taking certain medications?
Knowing the patterns of fatigue can help pinpoint the cause, and then the senior can see if any of these strategies help to decrease it:
- Schedule a checkup. Bring the older adult’s fatigue diary with you and review it along with his or her doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and offer recommendations to help.
- Create – and stick to – a fitness program. Physical exercise strengthens the heart, lungs, and muscles while boosting mood, appetite, and overall outlook on life.
- Skip the naps. This can be very challenging for someone with chronic fatigue, but avoiding daytime naps, particularly later in the day, can help promote a better night’s sleep.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can cause a variety of medical problems that deplete energy levels. The doctor can help with a senior’s nicotine addiction as needed.
- Seek therapy. Talking through life’s difficulties with a professional therapist is a good option to lessen stress, often resulting in much better sleep patterns. The counselor may also recommend calming techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or deep breathing exercises your senior loved one can do at home.
It’s also very important to understand that extreme fatigue in the elderly can be impacted by the foods he or she eats. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins, explains, “Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy.” Fresh, whole foods are best, as well as those containing vitamin B12, found in nondairy fortified milks and animal proteins.
Let Hearts at Home In-Home Care help a senior you love with lessening chronic fatigue. We can ensure medications are taken correctly, prepare healthy and balanced meals, provide motivation to stay physically active, and offer friendly companionship along the way. Email or call us for a complimentary in-home consultation at 913-440-4209 and for additional details on how our respite care in Overland Park, KS, and the surrounding areas can help provide a sunnier outlook on life for senior loved ones at home.