Springing our clocks forward left a lot 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. For seniors experiencing chronic fatigue, it’s a frustrating reality and can be tough to conquer.
Inspired Home Care, the award-winning provider of Barrington home care services, shares some of the common causes of extreme fatigue in the elderly, including:
- Health conditions, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep problems
- 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 a number of strategies older adults can try to regain energy during the day. A good place to begin is writing down the times each day when the fatigue is most significant. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting up? Following an extended period of watching television? After taking certain medications?
Knowing the patterns of fatigue often helps pinpoint the reason, and then you can see if any of these strategies help alleviate it:
- Schedule a checkup. Bring the older adult’s fatigue diary with you and review it together with his or her doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and provide recommendations to help.
- Create – and adhere to – a fitness regimen. Regular 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 an older adult with chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, particularly later in the day, can help foster a much better night’s sleep.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can cause a number of medical problems that reduce energy levels. A doctor can help with an older adult’s nicotine addiction as needed.
- Seek counseling. Talking through life’s difficulties with a professional therapist is a good way to alleviate stress, often leading to better sleep patterns. The therapist may also recommend calming techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or deep breathing exercises your senior loved one can do at home.
It’s important also to understand that the foods an older loved one consumes can be one of the causes of extreme fatigue in the elderly. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician with Johns Hopkins, explains, “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 Inspired Home Care help a senior loved one with chronic fatigue. We are able to ensure medications are being taken correctly, prepare healthy meals, provide motivation to remain physically active, and offer friendly companionship along the way. Contact us for a free in-home consultation at 847-787-7572 to learn more about how our award-winning Barrington home care services can provide a brighter outlook on life for seniors at home. For a full list of all the communities where we provide care, please visit our Locations Served page.