Here are 6 common causes of fatigue in older people
Do you ever want to do some gardening, cooking, walking the dog or going for a game of lawn bowls, only to feel like your body would prefer to sit on the couch or have a nap?
It’s not uncommon to feel tired from time to time, especially as we get older.
However, feeling tired or fatigued all the time can have a big impact on your quality of life and ability to get things done. You might also be wondering why you’re feeling so tired when you haven’t done anything particularly physical all day.
If the reason for your fatigue is unknown or you have been feeling tired for weeks without any relief, there could be an underlying issue worth investigating.
Some of the most common causes of fatigue are:
- Underlying medical conditions
- Some ailments such as heart condition, cancer, kidney disease or depression can cause fatigue. These require medical management and it is best to seek the help of your GP. Optimal management of any chronic medical conditions you are living with can help manage everyday fatigue.
- Many medications have side-effects, including fatigue, and as we get older we may take several different medications for various conditions. Aside from individual medications causing side-effects, interactions between different medications could also be the culprit in sapping your energy levels.
- This one sounds a little ironic – we know that fatigue can cause inactivity, but can inactivity cause fatigue? It absolutely can! The same way that too much of something can be detrimental to your health, so is too little of something. Not moving enough throughout the day can lead to muscle wasting and reduced fitness and endurance levels. You might find that engaging in a bit of exercise can boost your energy levels and reduce your fatigue.
- Sleep deprivation
- Not getting enough sleep at night can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. A good sleep routine is essential to having optimal energy levels in the day. As we get older, many factors can affect how well we sleep, including medical conditions, medications, continence issues and breathing issues.
- Mental health
- Mental health is just as important as physical health, and anxiety and depression can have a significant impact on energy levels. Fatigue is common in people living with mental health issues.
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Your feelings of fatigue could be related to what you are putting into your body. Your body requires appropriate nourishment and vitamin and mineral deficiencies can make you lethargic. It’s important to make sure you’re eating the right things, in the right amounts and to seek professional advice if you need it.
What can you do?
Talk to your GP
It is important to identify the underlying cause of your fatigue. Your GP can direct you to undertake appropriate tests if necessary, changing your medication or referring you to another health professional, such as a physiotherapist where appropriate.
Call your physiotherapist
A physiotherapist has a wealth of knowledge on how the body works. A physio can help to get you moving, by both working exercises into your daily life or designing a specific exercise program if your fatigue is caused by inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle.
Perhaps the cause of your fatigue is related to muscle or joint pain that has led to sub-optimal sleep. A physio can certainly help to address your muscle or joint issues. Exercise may also be the part of the answer if your fatigue relates to mental health problems.
These current challenging times with COVID-19 have led to a dramatic lifestyle change for us all.
Being mostly housebound and indoors may have led to changes in your energy levels and you may be wondering why you’re feeling more tired, despite not leaving the house. Let the friendly team at The Physio Co help you. The Department of Health continues to allow and encourage physiotherapists to continue in-person sessions, so we can come to you if appropriate.
Alternatively, we are available for online consultations (also known as telehealth) appointments.