Elderly care advice: Fatigue

May, 2013

One of the most common grumbles of the elderly is fatigue (or tiredness). If you provide care for elderly people understanding the causes of fatigue can help mitigate related complaints. Illness can also be scary within the elderly community; for the elderly, information that addresses how they are feeling, and why, helps to reduce stress and focuses them on getting better!

Causes of fatigue

Advice for elderly people and their carers surrounding the cause of fatigue amongst the elderly is as follows:

Most medical conditions present with fatigue at some point or the other especially if the disease is inadequately treated or poorly managed. However, it has to be evaluated whether the tiredness can be attributed to some other cause, like having too little sleep, or whether it is characteristic for a person’s age and lifestyle.

One’s energy levels depend on:

  • The body’s metabolic rate,

  • The supply of oxygen and nutrients are to the cells in the body,

  • Hormone levels that control various process that impact on energy production,

  • An efficient system that can run the body of wastes and other toxic products, and

  • A person’s mental and emotional state.

The general rule of thumb is if more than one of these are disrupted fatigue can set it. The main causes are:

  • Depression and other mental health disorders

  • Problems with blood circulation, like heart failure.

  • Impaired breathing, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

  • Hormonal imbalances, like the onset of menopause in women and hypothyroidism.

  • Malnutrition where there are deficiencies of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12.

  • Metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus.

Sometimes fatigue can be attributed to side effects of certain medication. Join us next month as well take a look at closer look at fatigue in seniors.

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