Why Do The Elderly Get So Tired 7 Common Causes
Fatigue, characterized by a persistent, implacable feeling of tiredness that usually develops slowly over time, is very common among older adults. This extreme feeling of tiredness and weakness impacts everyone differently and has various causes. In some cases, it might be simply a lack of enough sleep.
So, why do the elderly get so tired? Frequent fatigue might be a symptom of more serious health concerns. For older adults, fatigue or weakness is often associated with health conditions. That means it is important to remain cautious and seek professional medical help when experiencing any new, sudden feelings of fatigue.
That said, here are the seven most common causes of fatigue in the elderly.
What Are The Causes Of Muscle Weakness
Muscle weakness is commonly due to lack of exercise, ageing, muscle injury or pregnancy. It can also occur with long-term conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. There are many other possible causes, which include stroke, multiple sclerosis, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome .
Moving More Could Mean Living Longer
More than 2,900 older adults over the age of 60 participated in the study, rating on a scale of one to five how tired they typically felt following various activities. Some of the activities examined in the survey include a leisurely 30-minute walk, light housework, and heavy gardening.
After tracking health and mortality outcomes among participants for roughly three years, and accounting for various additional factors that may increase mortality risk , study authors came to a remarkable conclusion. Specifically, adults who scored 25 points or higher on the Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale were 2.3 times more likely to pass away over the next 2.7 years in comparison to others who scored below 25 points.
There has been research showing that people who increase their physical activity can decrease their fatigability score, Dr. Glynn explains. And one of the best ways to increase physical activitywhich simply means moving moreis by setting manageable goals and starting a routine, like a regular walk or scheduled exercise.
The study is published in the Journal of Gerontology.
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Conditions Of Muscle Inflammation
Inflammatory diseases of muscle typically affect older adults and include conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica , polymyositis and dermatomyositis. Some of these conditions respond well to steroids . Unfortunately, as explained above, steroids also cause muscle wasting and weakness.
Conditions of generalised tissue inflammation such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause muscle weakness. In a small proportion of cases of rheumatoid arthritis, muscle weakness and tiredness may be the only sign of the disease for some considerable time.
When Should I See A Doctor For Fatigue
If you’ve been tired for several weeks with no relief, it may be time to call your healthcare provider. He or she will ask questions about your sleep, daily activities, appetite, and exercise and will likely give you a physical exam and order lab tests.
Your treatment will be based on your history and the results of your exam and lab tests. Your doctor may prescribe medications to target underlying health problems, such as anemia or irregular thyroid activity. He or she may suggest that you eat a well-balanced diet and begin an exercise program.
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How Long Does It Take For Muscle Fatigue To Go Away
The time you suffer from muscle fatigue will depend on how far youve pushed yourself. With that said, though, you should be fully recovered within three to five days. If it lasts longer than that, then chances are youve pushed yourself further than you should and consider that for any future workouts.
Can Sleep Be Improved To Reduce Cancer Fatigue
Sleep is an important part of wellness. Good sleep can improve your mental and physical health. Several factors contribute to how well you sleep, and there are things you can do to improve your sleep, including:
- Doing relaxation exercises, meditation or relaxation yoga before going to sleep.
- Avoiding long afternoon naps.
- Going to bed only when sleepy. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual activities.
- Setting a consistent time to lie down and get up.
- Avoiding caffeine and stimulating activities in the evening.
- Establishing a relaxing pre-sleep routine.
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Holistic Approaches To Reducing Fatigue
When your aging loved ones fatigue has a relatively straightforward treatment , medical treatments are often available to help solve the problem. But fatigue is frequently at least somewhat influenced by your loved ones psychological state and overall well-being. In these cases, there are a number of holistic approaches that can prove helpful.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT is a type of talk therapy that uses a structured system that encourages rational thinking, and can be done in a one-on-one setting or group environment. It typically involves a person writing down their thoughts, working through them, and repeating the process. Therapy that uses CBT can help your loved one to work through any mental and emotional issues that are either being caused by the fatigue or are causing it in the first place. For fatigue sufferers that are also dealing with anxiety, anger, or depression, this therapeutic remedy may be the ideal fit.
- Regular exerciseLikewise, exercise is often recommended for older adults struggling with fatigue. Regular exercise has been shown to have similar effects to talk therapy in terms of reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Whether its walking, swimming, or doing gentle like Tai Chi, exercising can be a healthy, non-pharmacological way to treat the symptoms of fatigue.
How Is Cancer Fatigue Managed Or Treated
The first step in treating fatigue is knowing the problem exists. Many people dont bother to mention fatigue to their doctors because they believe it is normal. Its vital that you discuss this and all symptoms or side effects with your healthcare provider. Then, efforts can be directed at determining the cause of the problem and prescribing appropriate treatment. Your particular cancer treatment regimen, with its known side effects, may provide clues for your doctor or health care professional. A simple blood test, for example, can determine if you are anemic.
There is no single medication available to treat fatigue. However, there are medications available that can treat some of the underlying causes.
When youre struggling, you may want to see a palliative care specialist. These experts help people with cancer manage symptoms like pain, nausea and depression.
Your provider or palliative care team may recommend these actions to ease fatigue:
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What Is Pots And Why Does It Cause Fatigue
POTS is a group of symptoms resulting from dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This branch of the nervous system regulates functions we dont consciously control like sweating and blood circulation.
In people with POTS, more blood collects in the lower body when standing upright. The heart beats faster to pump it up to the brain, but with little success. The causes of POTS are unknown, but the problem is thought to lie in the communication breakdown between the brain and the cardiovascular system.
POTS-related fatigue is physical in nature and the mechanism behind it is not fully understood. It may have several causes, including your body working harder to move the blood.
Why Do I Feel So Tired
It is likely that a mixture of physical and emotional factors are contributing to you experiencing fatigue after stroke.
- Physical causes
The physical impact of the stroke on your brain and body can trigger fatigue. In the early weeks and months after a stroke, your brain and body are healing.
The rehabilitation process can involve trying to do things in a completely new way, or learning and doing exercises, which can be very tiring.
You may have lost mobility and fitness while in hospital, or because of the stroke, and being physically inactive is linked to fatigue.
If you have muscle weakness after your stroke, this can mean you use energy in different ways. For example, walking and completing other daily activities may well take up much more energy than they did before your stroke, making you more likely to feel tired. However, even those who make a good physical recovery can still experience fatigue.
- Emotional changes
Feeling low or anxious is common after a stroke, and can come with a sense of fatigue. If you feel your mood is low or you are constantly irritable or tense then dont ignore it. Your GP can prescribe medication or refer you for practical support such as counselling. Read more about emotional changes after stroke.
- Other factors
Other factors that can affect how tired you feel include sleeping problems such as insomnia and sleep apnoea . You might have trouble sleeping due to muscle stiffness or joint pain.
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Getting Help With Fatigue
It is important to get individual advice from a GP or other health professional, to ensure that you have identified any underlying health problems. They will also help you to get the right support with your fatigue.
1. Find out the cause of your fatigue
Try to find out if there are any treatable causes for your fatigue. Your GP or stroke nurse can check if you have any medical conditions that could be making you feel tired.
Ask the GP for a review of your current medication. If your fatigue is partially caused by side effects of your medication, it usually improves with time or once you start a new medication. Never stop taking your medication suddenly, and ask your GP for advice if you have any problems with side effects.
2. Help others understand your fatigue
Your tiredness may not be obvious to other people so they may not understand how you feel. This may be frustrating for you. Show your family and friends this guide to help them understand what you are going through. They can offer you support with your recovery and dealing with tasks.
Heart Attack Or Stroke
While you may be on the lookout for chest pain to signal problems with your heart, you should also add sudden-onset fatigue to the list, per the American Heart Association. .
In addition, the AHA points out that fatigue or confusion can be one of the initial symptoms of a stroke. Other signs might include a severe headache, arm weakness and difficulty with walking or talking.
If you have sudden exhaustion along with any other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately. In either case, your likelihood of recovery is better the sooner you get treatment.
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What Is The Treatment For Fatigue
The treatment for fatigue depends upon the cause. Some treatments for conditions that cause fatigue include medications, antibiotics, vitamins, and exercise. Medical treatment of fatigue depends on the treatment of its underlying cause. Fortunately, many causes of fatigue may be treated with medications, for example, iron supplements for anemia, medications and machines to help sleep apnea, medications to control blood sugar, medications to regulate thyroid function, antibiotics to treat infection, vitamins, and/or recommendations for dietary changes and a sensible exercise program. Again, treatment of the underlying cause is the key to treatment of the symptom of fatigue.
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Lifestyle Suggestions For Fighting Fatigue
- Dont smoke cigarette smoke contains many harmful substances. There are many reasons why smokers typically have lower energy levels than non-smokers for example, for the body to make energy it needs to combine glucose with oxygen, but the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen available in the blood.
- Increase physical activity physical activity boosts energy levels, while a sedentary lifestyle is a known cause of fatigue. Physical activity has many good effects on the body and mind. A good bout of exercise also helps you sleep better at night. Seek advice and encouragement regarding the steps you can take toward a more active lifestyle and talk to your doctor if you havent exercised in a long time, are obese, are aged over 40 years or have a chronic medical condition.
- Move more, sit less reduce sedentary behaviours such as watching television and using computers, and break up long bouts of sitting.
- Seek treatment for substance abuse excessive alcohol consumption or recreational drug use contribute to fatigue, and are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
- Workplace issues demanding jobs, conflicts at work and burnout are common causes of fatigue. Take steps to address your work problems. A good place to start is to talk with your human resources officer.
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What Causes Muscle Weakness In The Elderly
Muscle degeneration is caused by the bodys inability to balance the signals it produces to both build up and tear down muscle. When our bodies are working normally, our growth hormones and certain enzymes in our bodies act together to keep muscle growth steady. Because of this balance, were able to go through a normal cycle of stressing out muscles and then having our bodies heal them.
In patients with sarcopenia, the cycle gets out of balance and becomes resistant to our normal muscle growth signals. When this happens, the repair portion of the cycle does not take place as efficiently and our muscles lose strength.
There are specific causes of muscle weakness that also help contribute to sarcopenia and caregivers can help elderly patients avoid them in order to stay healthier longer.
The first cause of muscle loss is immobility. When we do not use our muscles or suddenly use them less than normal, they can break down faster than our bodies can repair them. This can bring on sarcopenia at a more rapid rate and lead to further mobility issues and a decreased quality of life overall.
Bad diet habits are another reason our bodies lose muscle, and good nutrition is a key component of building strong muscles. Its crucial for elderly patients to get enough calories and 20-30 grams of high-quality protein for each meal to slow the rate of muscle loss. Omega-3 and creatine supplements can be beneficial as well.
What Is The Right Kind Of Exercise For Cancer Fatigue
Its important for you to exercise your whole body every day, or at least every other day. A good exercise plan starts slowly, allowing your body time to adjust. Any kind of exercise is acceptable, including walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga or swimming , and strength training. Whatever kind of exercise you do should be at a moderate intensity so you can say to yourself I am working somewhat hard. Avoid exercise that makes you feel sore, stiff or exhausted.
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Fatigue In The Elderly
Fatigue is often considered to be a symptom rather than a condition and is different from general drowsiness, confusion, and excessive sleepiness. Many elderly patients use these symptoms interchangeably, making it difficult for their physicians to discern whether what they are experiencing is truly fatigue and if intervention is needed. Older adults are more likely to experience a reduction in certain hormone levels as well as suffer from chronic diseases, which increases the likelihood that they will experience fatigue.
* 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.
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Causes
The precise causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are unknown, and it can be difficult to diagnose because other conditions can result in similar symptoms. Many individuals can be born with a predisposition for the disorder which can be triggered by a number of the following causes:
Beyond Sleep: Overlooked Causes Of Fatigue In Older Adults
Though my grandfather passed away over a decade ago, I still think of him often. We used to watch films together late at night in his living room he was always a night owl. As he grew older, fatigued kicked in, and hed often sleep through the whole day, waking up at about 5pm only to be back asleep by midnight. I know he found the constant fatigue really frustrating, and possibly even felt a little embarrassed about sleeping so much. Fortunately, investigating the underlying causes of the problemespecially those that may be lesser knowncan offer new insight, clarity, and hope for aging adults suffering from fatigue.
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