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 lethargic and exhausted most of the time, regardless of how much you sleep. Chronic fatigue in seniors is a frustrating reality and can be tough to overcome.
- Medical conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, among others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep problems
- Anxiety, depression, and grief
- Loneliness and boredom
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a poor diet, too little physical activity, or an excessive amount of alcohol
There are several helpful strategies older adults can try to regain energy throughout the day. An excellent starting point is starting a fatigue journal and recording the times every day when the fatigue is most impactful. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting out of bed? Following a prolonged period of watching television? After taking particular medications?
Knowing the patterns of fatigue often helps pinpoint the source of lethargy, and then you can see if some of these strategies help lessen it:
- Schedule a checkup. Bring the fatigue diary of the senior you care for with you and review it together with his or her physician to rule out any underlying conditions and provide recommendations to help.
- Create – and stick to – an exercise routine. Regular exercise strengthens the heart, lungs, and muscles while boosting appetite, mood, and overall outlook on life.
- Skip the daily naps. This is particularly hard for a senior with chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, especially later in the day, can help promote a better night’s sleep.
- Stop smoking now. Smoking can cause a host of medical problems that deplete energy levels. The doctor can help with an older adult’s nicotine addiction as needed.
- Seek talk therapy. Talking through life’s challenges with a professional therapist is a great way to alleviate stress, often resulting in improved sleep patterns. The therapist may also recommend calming techniques like mindfulness, meditation, prayer, or deep breathing exercises the senior can do in the comfort of home.
It is important to realize that that the foods seniors consume can play a significant role in fatigue levels. 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 animal proteins and nondairy fortified milks.
Let Absolute Companion Care help a family member you love with 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. Additionally, our home care customer satisfaction scores are among the highest in the industry. Reach out to us for a no-cost in-home consultation at 410-357-9640 for additional details on how our senior home care in Baltimore and the surrounding communities can provide a brighter outlook on life for older adults.