How To Deal With Fatigue: A Guide For Older Adults


How To Deal With Fatigue: A Guide For Older Adults

Older man sat on a train struggling with how to deal with fatigue

Fatigue is one of the most common conditions in modern society. It can affect anyone, no matter their age, fitness levels, lifestyle or work.

While most people suffering from fatigue will recover in a matter of days or after a period of rest, some may experience fatigue over a longer period that can severely impact their lifestyle and ability to be productive, stay healthy and enjoy life. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, fatigue has become a more prevalent issue.

Learning how to deal with fatigue is important for living a healthy lifestyle. Activities such as driving, playing sports and caring for children while fatigued can be dangerous, so it’s crucial to recognise signs of fatigue and how you can manage it.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is the term used to describe an overwhelming feeling of tiredness or a lack of energy.

This is not the same as feeling drowsy, tired or sleepy. When fatigued, a person lacks the motivation and energy to complete normal activities. Being sleepy is a symptom of fatigue, but the two are not one and the same.

Fatigue is a common symptom of a number of medical conditions. These range in severity from mild to significantly disruptive to serious. Fatigue may be caused by a range of things, from lifestyle choices to a lack of exercise or a balanced diet.

If your fatigue doesn’t subside after a period of proper rest or nutrition, or you have an underlying physical or medical health condition that may be contributing to it, it is worth seeing your doctor. A healthcare professional can help diagnose the root cause of your fatigue and offer treatment options to manage or overcome it.

Fatigue symptoms

Fatigue can be recognised through a wide range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms. These may include:

  • Chronic tiredness or sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sore and weak muscles
  • Slowed reflexes and responses
  • Decision-making impaired
  • Becoming irritable
  • Impaired hand-to-eye coordination and blurry vision
  • Experiencing low mood
  • Reduced immune system function
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Low concentration levels

What causes fatigue?

Fatigue can be caused by a number of different factors. These may be medical conditions, lifestyle-related causes, or mental health issues such as stress. These factors may also work together to cause fatigue. Below are some of the causes of fatigue.

Lifestyle factors:

  • Physical exertion
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor sleeping pattern
  • Workplace-related factors such as burnout or shift work
  • Unemployment
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants or sedatives
  • Drinking alcohol regularly or excessively
  • Using illicit drugs, such as cocaine
  • Consuming excessive caffeine
  • Not eating a nutritious diet

Psychological and mental health causes:

  • Depression
  • Low mood
  • Periods of emotional stress
  • Boredom
  • Grief
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Fatigue may also be caused by a number of the above factors and diagnosed medical conditions working in combination.

How to deal with fatigue

Dealing with fatigue at home can be challenging at first, but there are changes you can make along with consulting your doctor to manage it.

Lifestyle changes

There are many lifestyle changes and measures you can take to lessen the impact of fatigue.

To help boost your energy levels and overall health, consider implementing the following:

  • Drinking enough fluids daily
  • Following a balanced diet
  • Keeping a regular exercise routine
  • Keeping a regular sleep schedule (eight hours a night ideally)
  • Avoiding known stressors
  • Avoiding an overly demanding work or social schedule
  • Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and drugs

While simple, these lifestyle changes can significantly help ease the symptoms of fatigue.

Speak to your doctor about a recommended treatment plan for any diagnosed health conditions. If left untreated, fatigue can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional well-being.

Fatigue treatment options

Consider making an appointment with your doctor in the event you’re fatigued and:

  • Have a higher-than-normal body temperature
  • Are experiencing unexplained weight loss
  • Feel irritated by and sensitive to cold weather
  • Have trouble falling and staying asleep
  • Believe you may be suffering from low mood or depression

In some cases, fatigue may be the result of an underlying medical condition.

Nutritional supplements for fatigue

Nutritional supplements can be a good way to minimize the impact of fatigue.

While not a replacement for a healthy diet or balanced lifestyle, they can help provide your body with the nutrients needed in the event of illness, seasonal impacts and injury.

The following vitamins and minerals can help boost your energy levels:

  • B group vitamins – B vitamins are found in a variety of foods, such as dairy, meat and whole grains. Despite this, some people in Australia do not meet their B vitamin requirements.
  • Iron – can help to correct a deficiency and avoid complications associated with iron deficiency, including fatigue. Red meat, beans, lentils and broccoli are good sources of iron.
  • Magnesium – reduces tiredness, fatigue and supports energy production. Magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens (like spinach or kale), nuts and seeds (in particular, pumpkin seeds and almonds are high in magnesium) and whole grains.

BOOST OPTIMUM may be beneficial for those with fatigue as it is high in vitamins B6 & B12, source of magnesium and iron which support energy function and help reduce feelings of tiredness, as well as being low GI for sustained energy throughout the day.

BOOST OPTIMUM is a delicious adult nutritional supplement that contains high quality protein, Probiotics and Prebiotics, Vitamins and Minerals to address nutritional needs of adults. BOOST OPTIMUM may help improve your nutritional status and physical performance when combined with physical exercise in as early as 6 weeks*.
*P. Abizanda et al. / JAMDA 16 (2015) 439.e9-439.e16. The ACTIVNES Study