Though we may tire more easily as we get older, chronic fatigue in older persons shouldn’t be accepted as a normal part of aging. Most people over 65—many of them in their 80s or even 90s—are living active, fulfilling lives in retirement.
A Columbia University study of fatigue in seniors, average age 74, showed:
- Fatigue was reported by 22 percent of women and 12 percent of men.
- People who reported feeling fatigued had higher death rates during the six-year study.
- Those who were regularly and extremely tired were more likely to be unmarried and older.
- People challenged by fatigue sought medical treatment more often than others in the study.
Ongoing fatigue has social consequences, too. People who always feel exhausted or “worn out” tend to stay at home, cutting off ties with friends and family and leading to social isolation and loneliness.
Health issues and fatigue
Fatigue in seniors should be taken seriously not only because it lowers the quality of life, but because it may signal a medical problem as well. It has been linked to many health issues: heart disease; diabetes; problems with kidneys, lungs and joints; urinary incontinence; anemia; hearing loss; vitamin deficiency; hormonal imbalance and depression. Use of certain medications can contribute to a lack of energy in some seniors.
Seniors whose lives are adversely affected by fatigue should see a physician to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment. But all seniors, whether currently lacking energy or not, would be wise to do the following, says SeniorHealth365.com, a resource for seniors and caregivers:
- Pace themselves through the day and not overdo strenuous physical activity.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. (See our blog post on better nutrition for better health)
- Get enough sleep—7-9 hours at nighttime. (See our blog post on sleep problems in seniors)
- Remain as physically active as possible. (See our blog post on senior exercise)
- Take medications as directed. (See our blog post on medication management)
- Get annual medical exams. (See our blog post on communicating with health professionals)
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, our professionally trained health care staff is experienced in helping all residents challenged by fatigue to live their best lives. These seniors generally reside in our personal care and assisted living homes or memory support neighborhoods, but could also live in our independent living communities.
For residents whose fatigue is related to chronic medical issues or recent surgery, our highly skilled Pathways Restorative ServicesTM care team can customize a plan to energize and strengthen them with the goal of resuming activities of daily living.
We care about every resident of our retirement homes and attend to their individual health care needs. If you would like support for your own or a loved one’s health and are choosing a retirement community near you, we invite you to contact us. We can show you any of our senior communities and introduce you to our full range of services. We offer senior housing in Reading, Lancaster, York (South and West) and Hershey, PA, as well as Mechanicsburg, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, PA, plus a retirement community in Frederick, MD.