Seniors and Fatigue

Difference between being Tired or Suffering from Fatigue

Seniors sometimes suffer from fatigue. It is normal to be tired sometimes, but usually a good night’s sleep or a few days of rest is all that is needed to get going again. However, if this extreme fatigue persists for weeks, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Reasons for Fatigue in Seniors

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) lists some of the possible reasons for fatigue:

New Disease or Treatment for a Disease

Sometimes fatigue is the first warning sign of a new disease. In other cases it may not only be a sign of a disease like cancer, but the treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiation may lead to fatigue.


All kinds of infections can lead to fatigue whether or not they produce a fever.


Anemia is a common cause of a lack of energy and fatigue.

Certain Kinds of Drugs can Lead to Fatigue

Certain kinds of drugs can lead to fatigue such as antidepressant medicines, antihistamine treatment for allergies and medicines that treat nausea or pain.

Pain and Untreated Painful Diseases

Pain and untreated painful diseases like fibromyalgia can lead to fatigue. Pain interferes with proper sleep. People suffering from chronic pain toss and turn and frequently wake up.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that interfere with getting a good night’s sleep can lead to fatigue.

Stress, Depression, Grief and Anxiety

Stress, grief, anxiety and worrying can interfere with a good night’s sleep and lead to fatigue.

Depression can cause fatigue.

Grief can lead to fatigue.

Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can lead to fatigue.

Unhealthy Lifestyle Practices

Unhealthy Lifestyle practices can lead to fatigue such as:

  • Staying up very late at night.
  • Drinking too much coffee, tea or cola that contain caffeine can keep you from falling asleep. Even over-indulging on a lot of chocolate can keep you awake.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can lead to fatigue and alcohol can also have bad interactions with some drugs and medicines.
  • Poor Eating Habits like eating junk foods can lead to fatigue.
  • Too little or too much physical exercise can lead to fatigue. See the Go4Life web-site to get free help putting together a proper exercise plan.
  • Boredom can lead to fatigue. It is important to participate in social activities that you like. Doing volunteer work can also help to keep you from getting bored.

Tips to Feel Less Tired and More Energetic

The NIA suggests the following tips to feel more energetic and less tired:

  • Write down in a sleep diary when you feel tired to see what triggers this.
  • Try not to take long naps late in the day that last more than half an hour.
  • Quit smoking, as it is linked to many serious chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Ask for help if working or doing things alone make you feel too tired.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a serious state of fatigue that can last for half a year or longer. So far, no one has been able to link it to any specific cause or disease. CFS can keep a person almost bed-ridden and unable to carry out some of life’s simple daily tasks. Rest does nothing to improve CFS. CFS may be accompanied by memory and concentration problems, pain, dizziness, sore throat, joint pain, headache and tender lymph nodes in the arm pits and neck.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Associated with Infections by Viruses

According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have noted that CFS occurs after infections by viruses like mononucleosis caused by the Epstein Barr virus. Also, fatigue can follow infections by the human herpes virus 6 and mouse leukemia viruses. However, no one has been able to prove that these viruses trigger CSF. Viral infections are also suspected of causing Alzheimer’s disease and you can read more about this in our blog post from June 22, 2018.

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If you or your loved one are experiencing fatigue that lasts for weeks and is not improved by rest, you should see your doctor.



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