Springing our clocks forward left a lot of us feeling sluggish from losing that extra hour of sleep. But before too long, our bodies have adjusted to the time change and life goes on. Imagine, however, feeling exhausted and lethargic the majority of the time, no matter how much you sleep. Extreme fatigue in older adults is a frustrating reality and can be difficult to overcome.
- Medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety, depression, and grief
- Boredom and loneliness
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet, inadequate physical activity, or an excessive amount of alcohol
There are a number of effective strategies older adults can implement to regain energy during the day. An excellent place to begin is writing down the times every day when the fatigue is most impactful. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting up? Following an extended period of watching television? After taking particular medications?
Understanding the patterns of fatigue often helps pinpoint the source, and then you can see if any of these tactics help alleviate it:
- Schedule a physical checkup. Bring the senior’s fatigue journal with you and review it with his or her doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and offer suggestions to help.
- Create – and stick to – a fitness program. Regular exercise strengthens the lungs, heart, and muscles while boosting appetite, mood, and overall outlook on life.
- Skip the naps while the sun is up. This is certainly particularly hard for a senior adult with chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, especially later in the day, will help foster a much better night’s sleep.
- Stop smoking as soon as possible. Smoking can cause a host of medical issues that deplete energy levels. The doctor can help with a senior’s nicotine addiction if needed.
- Seek therapeutic counseling. Talking through life’s challenges with a professional therapist is a fantastic option to lessen stress, often leading to better sleep patterns. The therapist can also recommend calming techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, prayer, or deep breathing exercises your senior loved one can do at home.
It’s also important to know that the foods any senior adult consumes can play a significant role in overall fatigue levels. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician with Johns Hopkins, points out, “Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy.” Fresh, whole foods are best, along with those containing vitamin B12, found in animal proteins and nondairy fortified milks.
Let Compassionate Nursing Services help a senior you love with chronic fatigue. We are able to ensure medications are being taken correctly, prepare healthy and balanced meals, provide motivation to remain physically active, and offer friendly companionship along the way. Give us a call for a free in-home consultation at 314-432-4312 for additional details on how our highly rated St. Louis home health care services can provide a sunnier outlook on life for seniors at home. For a full list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.