We might imagine that elderly people naturally require more rest as they age but fatigue can be a sign of something more serious in seniors. A six year study of seniors, published in the Journal of Gerontology, found that a lack of energy was associated with a 60 per cent greater death rate.
Many older adults rest during the day, often because of disturbed nights as a result of the need to use the bathroom or other medical conditions that interrupt sleep including restless legs, heartburn, or sleep apnea.
Excess fatigue and lethargy however, can be an indication that something else going on with the health of the elderly. Chronic sleepiness can be a sign of depression or may be a result of illness including heart and kidney disorders, lung disease, anemia, medication side effects or treatments for cancer. Many older people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and in addition to pain, complain of fatigue as a symptom of the condition.
Depression, which may stem from grief over a lost loved one, financial strain, loss of control over one’s life in old age or anxiety, can cause fatigue and loss of energy. Boredom and a poor diet may also leave seniors feeling tired.
Re-engaging in physical and social activities, eating a more nutritious diet, avoiding excess alcohol or caffeine and maintaining a good sleep/wake cycle are just a few strategies to bring a sense of energy and well being back to life in the golden years.
If you notice unexplained chronic fatigue in an elderly loved-one that persists weeks or even month, encourage them or a caregiver to seek medical attention.