Extreme Fatigue and Weakness in the Elderly - FatigueTalk.com (2023)

Why are seniors so tired? 7 common causes

Weakness, fatigue and fall prevention in the elderly

Characterized by a persistent and relentless feeling of tiredness that usually develops slowly over time, fatigue is very common among the elderly. This extreme feeling of tiredness and weakness affects each person differently and has several causes. In some cases, it could simply be a lack of enough sleep.

So why are seniors so tired? Frequent tiredness can be a symptom of more serious health problems. For older adults, fatigue or weakness is often associated with poor health. This means that it is important to be cautious and seek professional medical help when you experience a sudden new feeling of fatigue.

With that said, here are the seven most common causes of fatigue in seniors.

What are the causes of muscle weakness?

Muscle weakness usually occurs due to lack of exercise, aging, muscle injury or pregnancy. It can also occur with long-term conditions such asdiabetesoheart disease. There are many other possible causes, including stroke,multiple sclerosis, depression,fibromyalgiaand chronic fatigue syndrome.

Moving more can mean living longer

More than 2,900 seniorsover 60 yearsparticipated in the study, evaluating on a scale of one to fivehow tired they usually feltfollowing various activities. Some of the activities examined in the survey include a 30-minute walk, light housework and heavy gardening.

After tracking health and mortality outcomes among participants for approximately three years and taking into account several additional factors that may increase mortality risk, the study authors came to a remarkable conclusion. Specifically, adults who scored 25 or more on thePittsburgh Fatigue Scalethey were 2.3 times more likely to die in the next 2.7 years compared to others who scored less than 25 points.

There has been research showing that people who increase their physical activity can decrease theirfatigability scoreexplains Dr. Glynn. And one of the best ways toincrease physical activitywhat it simply means to move more is to set manageable goals and start a routine, such as a regular walk or scheduled exercise.

Heto studyis published inJournal of Gerontology.

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Muscle inflammation conditions

Inflammatory muscle diseases usually affect older adults and include conditions such aspolymyalgia 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 generalized tissue inflammation, such assystemic lupus erythematosusyrheumatoid arthritiscan 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 a considerable time.

When should I see a doctor for fatigue?

Extreme Fatigue and Weakness in the Elderly - FatigueTalk.com (1)

(Video) Burn Out to Brilliance. Recovery from Chronic Fatigue | Linda Jones | TEDxBirminghamCityUniversity

If you've been tired for several weeks with no relief, it might be time to call your doctor. He or she will ask questions about your sleep, daily activities, appetite, and exercise, and will likely do a physical exam and order lab tests.

Your treatment will be based on your history and the results of your exams and laboratory tests. Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat underlying health conditions, such as anemia or irregular thyroid activity. He or she may suggest that you eata well balanced dietystart an exercise program.

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How long does it take for muscle fatigue to go away?

How long you suffer from muscle fatigue will depend on how hard you exert yourself. However, with that being said, you should be fully recovered within three to five days. If it lasts longer than that, chances are you've been pushing yourself harder than you should, and consider that for future workouts.

Can sleep be improved to reduce fatigue caused by cancer?

Sleepit is an important part of well-being. Getting a good night's 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:

  • Do relaxation exercises, meditation, or relaxation yoga before bed.
  • Avoid long afternoon naps.
  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sexual activities.
  • Set a consistent time for going to bed and getting up.
  • avoid caffeineand stimulating evening activities.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.

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Holistic approaches to reducing fatigue

While the fatigue of your elderly loved ones is relatively easy to treat, there are often medical treatments available to help address the issue. But fatigue is often influenced, at least in part, by the psychological state and general well-being of loved ones. In these cases, there are several holistic approaches that can be helpful.

  • cognitive behavioral therapyCBT is a type of talk therapy that uses a structured system that encourages rational thinking and can be done in an individual or group setting. It usually involves a person writing down their thoughts, analyzing them, and repeating the process.Therapy that uses CBTYou can help your loved one through anymental and emotional problemsthat they are either being caused by fatigue or causing it in the first place. For people who suffer from fatigue and who also deal with anxiety, anger or depression, thistherapeutic medicinemay be the ideal fit.
  • regular exerciseAdditionally, exercise is often recommended for older adults struggling with fatigue. regular exerciseHas been shownhave effects similar to psychotherapy in terms of reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Whether it's walking, swimming, or doing gentle exercises like Tai Chi, exercise can be a healthy, drug-free way to treat the symptoms of fatigue.

How is cancer fatigue managed or treated?

Top 5 causes of extreme fatigue

The first step in treating fatigue is knowing that the problem exists. Many people don't bother to mention fatigue to their doctors because they think it's normal. It is vital that you discuss this and any symptoms or side effects with your doctor. Efforts can then be directed towards determining the cause of the problem and prescribing the appropriate treatment. Your specific cancer treatment regimen, with its known side effects, may provide clues to your doctor or healthcare provider. A simple blood test, for example, can determine if you have anemia.

There is no single medication available to treat fatigue. However, there are medications available that can treat some of the underlying causes.

When you are having difficulties, you may want to consult a palliative care specialist. These specialists help people with cancer manage symptoms such asdor, nausea and depression.

Your palliative care provider or team may recommend these actions to relieve fatigue:

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What are pots and why do they cause fatigue?

POTS is a group of symptoms that result from autonomic nervous system dysfunction. This branch of the nervous system regulates functions that we don't consciously control, such as sweating and blood circulation.

In people with POTS, more blood pools in the lower body when they are standing up. The heart beats faster to pump to the brain, but with little success. The causes of POTS are unknown, but the problem is thought to lie in a disruption in communication between the brain and the cardiovascular system.

POTS-related fatigue is physical in nature and the mechanism behind it is not fully understood. It can have a number of causes, including your body working harder to move blood.

Why do I feel so tired?

It is likely that a combination of physical and emotional factors contribute to feelings of fatigue after a stroke.

  • physical causes

The physical impact of a stroke on the brain and body can cause fatigue. In the first few weeks and months after a stroke, your brain and body are on the mend.

The rehabilitation process can involve trying to do things in a whole new way, or learning and exercising, which can be very tiring.

You may have lost mobility and fitness while in the hospital or due to your stroke, and physical inactivity is linked to fatigue.

If you have muscle weakness after your stroke, it could mean that you use energy in different ways. For example, walking and other daily activities can use a lot more energy than before your stroke, making you more likely to feel tired. However, even those who have a good physical recovery can feel tired.

  • emotional changes

Feeling depressed or anxious is common after a stroke and may be accompanied by a feeling of fatigue. If you feel that your mood is depressed or you are constantly irritable or tense, don't ignore it. Your GP can prescribe medication or recommend practical support such as counselling. Read more aboutEmotional changes after a stroke.

  • other factors

Other factors that can affect how tired you feel are sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea. You may have trouble sleeping due to muscle stiffness or joint pain.

Don't get lost:What can cause sudden extreme fatigue

How to get help with fatigue

It is important to get individual advice from a GP or other healthcare professional to ensure you have identified any underlying health issues. They will also help you get proper support with your fatigue.

(Video) Tiredness vs. Fatigue

1. Discover the cause of your tiredness

Try to find out if there is a treatable cause of your fatigue. Your GP or stroke nurse can check to see if you have any medical conditions that might make you feel tired.

Ask your doctor for a review of your current medication. If your fatigue is caused in part by the side effects of your medication, it usually gets better over time or when you start a new medication. Never stop taking the medicine suddenly and consult your GP if you have any problems with side effects.

2. Help others understand your tiredness

Your tiredness may not be obvious to other people, so they may not understand how you feel. This can be frustrating for you. Show your family and friends this guide to help them understand what you are going through. They can support you in your recovery and with homework.

Heart attack or stroke

Extreme Fatigue and Weakness in the Elderly - FatigueTalk.com (2)

While you might want to watch if chest pain indicates problems with your heart, you should also add sudden-onset fatigue to the list, according to theAmerican Heart Association. .

in addition, thePuppypoints out that tiredness or confusion can be one of the firstsymptoms of a stroke. Other signs may include a severe headache, weakness in the arms, and trouble walking or talking.


If you experience sudden exhaustion along with any other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. In either case, your chance of recovery is greater the sooner you receive treatment.

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What is the treatment for fatigue?

The treatment of fatigue depends on the cause. Some treatments for conditions that cause fatigue include medications,antibiotics,vitamins, and exercise. Medical treatment of fatigue depends on treating its underlying cause. Fortunately, many causes of fatigue can be treated with medication, for example iron.supplementsfor anemia, drugs and machines to help sleep apnea, drugs to controlglycemia, medicines to regulate thyroid function, antibiotics to treat infections,vitamins, and/or recommendations for dietary changes and a sensible exercise program. Again, treating the underlying cause is the key to treating the fatigue symptom.

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Lifestyle tips to combat fatigue

Suggestions include:

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  • smokelessCigarette smoke contains many harmful substances. There are many reasons why smokers tend to have lower energy levels than non-smokers, for example, for the body to produce the 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 activityphysical activity boosts energy levels, while a sedentary lifestyle is a known cause of fatigue. Physical activity has many positive effects on the body and mind. A good exercise session also helps you sleep better at night. Seek advice and encouragement about steps you can take towards a more active lifestyle, and talk to your doctor if you haven't exercised in a long time, are obese, are over 40, or have a chronic medical condition.
  • Move more, sit lessReduce sedentary behaviors such as watching TV and using computers, and stop prolonged periods of sitting.
  • Seek treatment for substance abuseExcessive alcohol consumption or recreational drug use contributes to fatigue and is unhealthy and potentially dangerous.
  • problems in the workplaceDemanding jobs, work conflicts, and burnout are common causes of fatigue. Take action to resolve your work issues. A good place to start is by talking to your director of human resources.

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What causes muscle weakness in the elderly?

Loss of muscle mass is caused by the body's inability to balance the signals it produces to build and destroy muscle. When our bodies are functioning normally, our growth hormones and certain enzymes in our bodies work together to maintain constant muscle growth. Because of this balance, we were able to go through a normal cycle of stressing our muscles and then having our bodies heal them.

In patients with sarcopenia, the cycle becomes imbalanced and resistant to our normal signals of muscle growth. When this happens, the repairing part of the cycle is not performed 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 these to stay healthy longer.

sedentary behavior

The first cause of muscle wasting is immobility. When we don't use our muscles or suddenly use them less than normal, they can break down faster than our bodies can repair them. This can lead to sarcopenia at a faster rate and lead to more mobility issues and a decrease in overall quality of life.

poor nutrition

Bad eating habits are another reason why our bodies lose muscle, and good nutrition is a key component of building strong muscle. It is crucial that elderly patients get enough calories and 20 to 30 grams of high quality protein with each meal to slow the rate of muscle loss. Omega-3 and creatine supplements may also be beneficial.

chronic inflammation

severe stress

What is the right type of exercise for cancer fatigue?

Fatigue and hormone therapy

It is important that you exercise your entire body every day, or at least every other day. A good exercise plan starts slowly, giving your body time to adjust. Any type of exercise is acceptable, including walking, riding a stationary bike, yoga or swimming, and strength training. Any type of exercise you do should be of moderate intensity so that you can tell yourself I'm working a little harder. Avoid exercises that make you feel sore, stiff, or exhausted.

Don't get lost:Does diabetes cause extreme fatigue?

fatigue in the elderly

Fatigueit is often considered 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 doctors to discern whether what they are actually experiencing is fatigue and whether intervention is necessary. Older adults are more likely to experience a drop in certain hormone levels, as well as suffer from chronic illnesses, making them more likely to experience fatigue.

* Live with lilies, not leeches:

Our environment plays a big role in how we feel and act. If you surround yourself with people who lift you up, make you feel loved, care about you, and want you, you'll feel amazing around them. Try to spend more time with worthwhile people rather than those who make you feel worthless and drain your energy.

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Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome

The precise causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are unknown and can be difficult to diagnose because other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Many people can be born with a predisposition to the disorder which can be triggered by any of the following causes:

(Video) How to fix the exhausted brain | Brady Wilson | TEDxMississauga

  • Virus:Many people develop CFS after recovering from a viral infection. Possible viruses include the Epstein-Barr virus, the Ross River virus, and the human herpes virus, which commonly causes cold sores.
  • Stress:The stress that occurs due to physical and emotional trauma can result in extreme fatigue. Research indicates that after injuries, surgeries, and emotional trauma, people with CFS begin to experience symptoms.
  • Weakened immune system:People suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome also appear to have underlying immune system problems, although there is no indication that a compromised immune system causes the condition.
  • Hormonal imbalances:Abnormal hormone levels can cause people to experience the symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Specific hormones refer to those produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal glands.

    Beyond sleep: overlooked causes of fatigue in older adults

    Extreme Fatigue and Weakness in the Elderly - FatigueTalk.com (3)

    Even though my grandfather passed away more than a decade ago, I still think about him often. We used to watch movies together late at night in his living room, he was always a night owl. As he got older, tiredness took its toll and he would often sleep all day, waking up around 5 pm. m. and he went back to sleep at midnight. I know you found the constant tiredness really frustrating and possibly even felt a little embarrassed about sleeping so much. Fortunately, investigating the underlying causes of the problem, especially those that may be lesser known, can offer new insight, clarity and hope for seniors who suffer from fatigue.

    Also check:Signs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • FAQs

    What causes sudden extreme fatigue in elderly? ›

    Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Untreated pain and diseases like fibromyalgia. Anemia. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

    What causes extreme fatigue and body weakness? ›

    In most cases, there's a reason for the fatigue. It might be allergic rhinitis, anemia, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease (COPD), a bacterial or viral infection, or some other health condition. If that's the case, then the long-term outlook is good.

    When a person feels weak and is constantly tired and lack of energy? ›

    Fatigue is a feeling of tiredness, exhaustion, or lack of energy. You may feel mildly fatigued because of overwork, poor sleep, worry, boredom, or lack of exercise. Any illness, such as a cold or influenza (flu), may cause fatigue, which usually goes away as the illness clears up.

    What medical conditions can cause extreme fatigue? ›

    Disease and infection: Cancer, kidney disease and multiple sclerosis are just a few diseases that cause fatigue. Fatigue can also be a sign of infections such as mononucleosis, HIV and flu. Mental health conditions: Fatigue from depression or anxiety may make it difficult or impossible to perform daily activities.

    What can an elderly person take for energy? ›

    B Vitamin Supplements

    B vitamins — B6 and B12 in particular — are excellent energy boosters. In fact, they're found in plenty of popular energy drinks. Fortunately, you don't need to down all that caffeine to reap B-vitamin benefits.

    When is extreme fatigue serious? ›

    If the fatigue is associated with chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heart rate, or sense of imminent passing out, these are urgent conditions that warrant immediate medical attention. These could be symptoms of a serious heart condition or major vascular insufficiency.


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