Old Age and Fatigue: Causes and Preventive Measures
As you age, you may notice that your body stop functioning the way it used to when you were young. You will observe many changes, be it the skin getting loose or catching diabetes. You may also observe decline in energy.
Generally people feel tired and low every now and then but they feel really well after a good night sleep. The problem comes when you feel so tired and sleepy continuously from weeks as if you don’t have any energy left to even do day to day stuff. This problem is called fatigue.
Fatigue in old age is very commonly faced by silver-haired citizen especially people having some medical problems. Endurance can decline with age but fatigue should not be considered as a natural process of ageing. Hence, it should not be considered that normal ageing and fatigue go hand in hand.
SIGNS OF FATIGUE:
- Mood swings.
- Waking up exhausted even after a long nap.
- Inability to do activities you want.
- Angry outbursts.
- Lack of motivation.
- Complaints of tiredness.
- Shortness of breath.
- Sleeping too many hours overnight.
- Napping throughout the day.
There are many problems associated with it but broadly there are four major issues that leads to fatigue.
CAUSES OF FATIGUE IN OLD AGE:
1. Medical issues:
* Taking medicines like antihistamines, antidepressants and medicines for pain and nausea.
* Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
– Viral infections:
Hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV, etc.
– Bacterial infections:
– Immunologic/rheumatologic causes:
Rheumatoid arthritis. (To know about artritis click here)
* Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
* Kidney disease
* Liver disease
* Dehydration is the classic cause of fatigue. We recommend you to drink water multiple times a day, even if you are not thirsty and include water rich fruits in your diet. You will notice amazing changes in your life after this.
* Hypocalcaemia disorders:
This problem is often associated with problem in parathyroid gland which can very easily be tested and treated. High blood calcium causes mood swings, fatigue and exhaustion.
* People suffering from disease like rheumatoid arthritis often complain of fatigue because of joint pain.
People with cancer taking chemotherapy or the ones recovering from major surgery.
* Chronic diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, etc.
* Anaemia, as energy drops with drop in haemoglobin and Red blood cells. It can happen due to lack of iron in the diet or vitamin B12 deficiency. It can be treated by dietary changes and medicines.
* Thyroid disease (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism), If weight gain and hair loss is accompanied by fatigue, it may be the signs of thyroid.
* People with heart diseases as blood is not pumped efficiently.
* Untreated pain
People suffering from the problems mentioned above, may experience weakness and fatigue in old age.
2. Sleep challenges:
* Sleep Apnoea i.e., while sleeping when people feel paused or shallow breathing.
* People having Overactive bladders and prostates wake up multiple times in a night to urinate.
* Restless legs syndrome.
* Staying up too late.
These sleeping problems can disturb sleep and ultimately lead to fatigue as a person who don’t get healthy sound sleep at night, feel very tired during the day. So to avoid this, make a sleeping schedule and try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
3. Emotional Issues:
Spending hours of your day worrying about something can also lead to fatigue. Same is the case with-
- Stress after retirement age.
- Loss of family and its Grief.
- Tensions of unmarried daughter, alcoholic son in law, dead children, unsuccessful family, etc.
- Grief for the loss of any family member or frequent deaths.
- Financial stress.
And it’s also not surprising to suffer from depression without being conscious of it.
The best way to tackle emotional stress is to take actions about things under our control, praying for the things that are not under our control, and wisdom to distinguish them.
4. Lifestyle habits:
- Stop eating Energy draining things like fried foods and sweets.
- Say no to Junk food.
- Reduce Caffeine, tea and sodas.
- No Alcohol.
- Take enough rest.
- Positive thinking.
- Lack of or too much of physical activity.
- Take enough exercise.
- Eating healthy balanced diet.
Food plays a crucial role in condition of our health. While on one hand, Healthy food habits keep us energised, bad or energy draining food leads to fatigue.
WAYS TO REDUCE FATIGUE:
- Say no to Smoking: smoking is the root cause of many diseases, so try avoiding it as respiratory diseases caused by smoking may drain your energy.
- Socialise as much as possible.
- Exercise more often.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Listen music.
- Eliminate alcohol consumption.
- Start writing a diary as it will help you to find patterns throughout the day that when you feel happiest or lowest during the day.
- Try avoiding long naps.
You may have heard somewhere about Chronic fatigue in old age!
WHAT IS CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME?
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or ME/CFS, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), is a condition when fatigue lasts for more than 6 months and that too not in relation with other diseases or conditions.
Though there is not so much information about this disease and neither does we have any lab tests on this mysterious illness but it is seen that People suffering from CFS finds it difficult to do even the basic day to day tasks and face problems like sleeping disorders, memory loss, concentrating very less, pain, sore throat, etc. Among the following at least four of the following criteria should be met continuously for six months in order to have CFS.
- Multi-joint pain without redness or swelling.
- Unrefreshing sleep.
- Post-exertion malaise lasting more than 24 hours.
- Muscle pain.
- Significant impairment in short-term memory.
- Frequent sore throat.
- Tender cervical or auxiliary lymph nodes.
- Headaches of a new type and pattern.
THE IMPACT OF FATIGUE
* Physical function-
- Reduced activities.
- Prolonged periods of rest.
- Increased risk of falling.
- Increased need for assistance.
- Uncoordinated movements.
- Reduced alertness.
- Decreased concentration.
- Reduced clarity of thoughts.
- Increased forgetfulness.
* Emotional state
- Emotional lability.
- Increased anger.
* Social isolation
- Lack of contact
HOW TO PREVENT FATIGUE IN SENIORS:
Healthy habits are solution of every problem. Adopting healthy habits can result into prevention of extreme fatigue in old age.
These mainly include:
Have a nutritious diet while eliminating alcohol and smoking. Try to eat more often and in smaller quantity i.e., smaller meals but more frequently. Instead of refined carbs try to include more whole grains in your diet.
* DRINK WATER:
Dehydration is decreases alertness and concentration and it is recommended to drink as much as water you can daily. You might be asking how you could know that you are drinking enough water. The answer is checking your urine! If it is darker than pale yellow or straw colour, it is high time to make drinking water your habit.
* SLEEP EARLY:
We are hearing this phrases since childhood “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. But the amazing thing is that this old phrase makes sense even now. Good sleeping habits have amazing benefits. If you allow yourself to sleep early, you are more likely to sleep for a longer duration and ultimately you will feel less fatigue.
We completely understand that when you are feeling tired, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But studies have shown amazing benefits of exercise in old age. It will keep you energised all day long and will also keep your heart, brain and muscles healthy. Doing exercise on daily basis will reduce skeletal muscle fatigue in old age. But it should also be in mind that doing more exercise than you body capability may also lead to fatigue.
* STRIKE A POSE :
All over the world people have accepted the benefits of YOGA. Always remember that age is just a number and It is never too late to try something new. So even if you haven’t done yoga when you were young, you can give it a try now. Doing yoga can bring enormous change in your life. You will feel more confident, energetic and mindful.
* RULE OUT HEALTH PROBLEMS:
As we have discussed above how medical problems cause fatigue. So the primary focus should be on curing those diseases which would ultimately cure problems like fatigue and weakness.
* ONE CHANGE AT A TIME:
We suggest you to develop one habit at a time and that too slowly. For example don’t start going early to bed and doing exercising and taking smaller meals all together in a single day. Try to keep the pace slow but lasting. Try to change your routine one habit at a time as this will give you more lasting benefits.
* TAKE A WALK:
Whenever you feel so tired, go for a 5-min walk, do stretch your legs and relax by appreciating the weather and the blessings you have. Try to remember the good things or your best moment you are always grateful for. This would give you a new ray of hope to live big and long. You can do this 2-3 times a day.
* TAKE YOUR VITAMINS:
Taking high quality vitamins on a daily basis have amazing results on your body. It will keep you healthier. You can take the help of a doctor to get suggestions on which vitamins are beneficial for your body.
* LIVE WITH ‘LILIES’ NOT “LEECHES”:
Our surrounding plays a major role on how we feel and act. If you surround yourself with people who encourage you, make you feel loved, people who care for you and want you, you will feel amazing with them. Try to spend more time with people who are worth your time instead of spending it with the ones who make you feel worthless and are energy draining.
* CONNECT WITH YOUR FAMILY:
It is very important to maintain relationships because ultimately only these are the real earnings. So try to meet your loved one frequently on dinner or a get together. You will feel a strange rush of energy in your body when you are surrounded by the people you love the most.
* BE OF SERVICE:
The main problem of depression and health issues comes when you don’t have anything to do whole day. You will get bored and start feeling useless. So we recommend you to be a part of an organisation or NGO who is working for a cause you always wanted to be a part of but haven’t got time when you were young. When you would have a gig to wake up in the morning, you can overcome fatigue more easily.
Assessment of Severity of Fatigue
Though there are many scales available for the detection of fatigue like Multi dimensional Assessment of Fatigue, etc. But still there is no solid device to check it.
But we have “Calder’s fatigue severity scale” to the rescue which is the most authentic of all. You have to rate each of the following question from 0 to 3:
- Tiredness problem
- Urge to rest move
- Urge to sleep more and feeling drowsy
- Problem of starting new thing
- Lack of energy
- Lack of strength in muscles
- Feeling weak
- Difficulty in concentration
- Problems in thinking clearly
- Frequent tongue slip
- Memory loss
A total score of greater than 18 points out of a possible 33 points is considered highly suggestive of fatigue.
Fatigue should not be considered as a symbol of getting older because it is not. Fatigue is like a disease in itself which can be cured easily if taken care of, simply by changing our lifestyle and making a positive outlook of life . You can do that by having a healthy balanced diet, drinking more water, taking proper medicines of the disease concerned, taking proper sleep, avoiding alcohol and getting yourself surrounded by loving and caring people.
If you still have some questions regarding this or you need assistance of health care providers for yourself or your loving parents or grandparents either for a month or ten years, we would be more than happy to help you out.
You can contact us email@example.com or call us at 1800-123-445555.