Seniors — those 65 and older — are advised to get approximately seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This is the same recommendation for younger adults, too. However, some older adults tend to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than their younger counterparts. This means that some seniors don’t get the suggested seven to nine hours of sleep, while others exceed it.
There can be many reasons for older adults’ extended or unusually long sleep patterns. Fatigue is more than just occasional sleepiness — it’s a long experience of long-term exhaustion, and its causes are both physical and mental.
Some causes of fatigue in seniors might be:
Mental Health Challenges
Seniors can experience depression for many reasons — illness, lack of independence, loss of loved ones or loneliness — to name a few. Depression can take a mental and physical toll, and one of the common results is exhaustion.
Dementia can affect a person’s sleep patterns differently as the illness advances. In the mild to moderate stages, people may experience lethargy due to the deterioration of a type of neuron that helps us to stay awake.
In the late (or severe) stages, those with dementia may sleep for extended periods as the damage to a person’s brain becomes more severe, causing them to feel physically drained and much weaker.
If a family member or a friend has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s a good idea to seek help for your loved ones in the early stage of their diagnosis. A quality home healthcare provider like Integracare Home Care will provide compassionate, specialized care in a comforting and familiar space. Furthermore, regular visits from a healthcare professional can help buoy a senior’s spirits, which may help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
A diet low in iron, B12, copper and folate can result in a low red-blood-cell count, which leads to anemia. In addition to fatigue, anemia may also cause pale skin and dizziness. Seniors with Crohn’s and other intestinal issues may be more at risk of developing anemia.
If someone has received an anemia diagnosis, in addition to any prescribed medications, they should consume a nutrient-rich diet to balance out deficiencies.
Seniors are more exposed to the potential of chronic pain as the body ages — it has, after all, been exposed to physical wear and tear for a longer period. Causes of chronic pain can stem from musculoskeletal conditions (like arthritis), nerve pains resulting from surgery, cancers or shingles and chronic diseases(like renal disease), and pulmonary obstructions.
The body may be overexerting itself in response to coping with chronic issues, tiring itself out as it tries to manage the pain or inflammation. Coping with pain may also lead to emotional and mental exhaustion.
Infection and Disease
Infections like Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and heart disease could cause fatigue in seniors as their bodies work hard to battle and overcome these issues. While other tell-tale signs of illness will have presented themselves before fatigue sets in, for some seniors, these indicators may be dismissed or put down to something else.
If a loved one has been living with fatigue for some time, seeking assistance is essential. Left untreated, fatigue can take a tremendous physical, emotional, and mental toll. Further, fatigue may be a result of an untreated medical condition, including chronic fatigue syndrome or another underlying issue.