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. Chronic fatigue in older adults is a troublesome reality and can be difficult to conquer.
- Health conditions, such as cancer, heart problems, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety, depression, and grief
- Boredom and loneliness
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, like a poor diet, not enough physical activity, or too much alcohol
There are a number of strategies seniors can try to regain energy during the day. An excellent starting point is writing down the times each day when the fatigue is most severe. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting out of bed? After a prolonged period of watching TV? After taking certain medications?
Knowing the patterns of fatigue will help pinpoint the cause, and then see if any of these strategies help alleviate it:
- Schedule a checkup. Bring the older adult’s fatigue journal with you and review it along with his or her physician to rule out any underlying conditions and provide recommendations to help.
- Create – and adhere to – an exercise program. Physical exercise strengthens the lungs, heart, and muscles while boosting appetite, mood, and general outlook on life.
- Skip the naps. This might be especially challenging for someone with chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, particularly later in the afternoon, will help foster an improved night’s sleep.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can cause a number of medical problems that diminish energy levels. The doctor can help with a senior’s nicotine addiction as needed.
- Seek counseling. Talking through life’s challenges with a professional therapist is a fantastic way to relieve stress, often leading to much better sleep patterns. The counselor might also recommend calming techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or deep breathing exercises your loved one can do at home.
It’s beneficial to understand that the foods an older adult consumes can play a significant role in fatigue levels. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins, says, “Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy.” Fresh, whole foods are best, together with those containing vitamin B12, found in nondairy fortified milks and animal proteins.
Let Morning Glory Home Care help an older adult you love with chronic fatigue. We can ensure medications are being taken correctly, prepare healthy meals, provide motivation to stay physically active, and offer friendly companionship along the way. Email or call us for a no-cost in-home consultation at 618-667-8400 for additional details on how our home care in Godfrey, IL and the surrounding areas provide a sunnier outlook on life for older adults at home.