It is normal to feel tired every once in a while, especially after a busy day at work. Usually, a good night’s sleep is enough to recover and recharge for the next day.
However, for older adults, rest is not always enough to restore their energy.
Fatigue is a common problem among seniors. In most cases, as they age, their sleep patterns change. They wake up more often at night, which leads to drowsiness and lethargy in the morning. They have to take more naps throughout the day to catch up on sleep. Most seniors also often have an underlying medical condition and are taking medications that are making them more tired than usual.
Fatigue may not seem like a big problem, but it can negatively impact a person’s life. For one thing, it can cause seniors to miss social events. People in this age group are already at risk of loneliness and isolation, which can lead to depression. Moreover, it can significantly lower their quality of life throughout their twilight years.
There is no one way to address chronic fatigue among seniors. However, specific lifestyle changes can help improve their condition.
Start With Their Diet
The food you eat is fuel. By breaking down food and absorbing its nutrition, the body gets the energy it needs to perform its basic but essential functions as well as allow you to enjoy different activities.
But, just any food is not enough, especially for older adults. They need a balanced diet composed of protein, fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Carbohydrates, in particular, are necessary because they break down to become energy. However, seniors need complex carbohydrates that are packed with more nutrients, have high fiber content, and digest more slowly. Unlike simple carbohydrates (like white bread, white rice), complex carbs manage blood sugar spikes—perfect for those who have diabetes or high blood sugar levels.
Seniors also need to consume lean protein for energy. According to experts, they should eat 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. Thus, for a person weighing 150 pounds, they should have 69 to 81 grams of protein daily. A previous study found that older adults who do not consume enough protein are more likely to have difficulty walking or climbing stairs compared to those who ate more foods rich in protein.
Unfortunately, many older adults suffer from undernutrition for various reasons, including the reduced need of the body for calories. Intravenous (IV) hydration is a good and immediate solution for this. It delivers vital nutrition directly into the body without the extra calories that come with food.
Encourage Regular Exercise
A person who already feels tired would not have the motivation to exercise, but physical activity actually can boost their energy levels throughout the day.
Exercise triggers your body to produce mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria make energy out of glucose, which you get from the food you eat and the air you breathe. If your body has more of it, you become energized.
Moreover, exercising boosts blood circulation, which delivers oxygen throughout the body. This pushes your body to use your energy better and improve regular function.
In addition, exercise ensures that all your energy throughout the day is spent by bedtime. You are more likely to sleep longer and deeper at night, allowing your body to recharge for the next day.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
Fatigue is also a common symptom of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. If you feel tired all the time, it can be a sign that your mental well-being is not at its best right now.
It is very common for seniors to develop anxiety and depression due to their day-to-day experiences. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, anxiety affects about 10 to 20 percent of the elderly population—many of which are undiagnosed. Meanwhile, across the United States, about seven million people over the age of 75 have depression.
Seniors may develop anxiety or depression due to extreme stress or a traumatic experience such as getting a cancer diagnosis, death of a loved one, relationship problems, isolation, and loneliness.
By talking to a mental health professional, they can get a diagnosis and be recommended treatment options. Both anxiety and depression are often treated with prescription medication and therapy.
The Bottom Line
Fatigue among seniors should never be ignored because it can be a sign of an underlying illness or other problems left unaddressed. Moreover, it can lead to more serious complications later on.