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Fighting Fatigue in Older Adults—5 Useful Tips to Beat Exhaustion and Boost Your Energy as a Senior

12:00am & Tips and Advice

A dark, looming anchor weighing you down and drowning you in waves of weariness.

A tumultuous time when even the smallest of tasks suddenly transform into towering tribulations that almost seem impossible to overcome.

We’ve all endured the hindering and unpleasant experience of what it’s like to be thoroughly exhausted.

However, when fighting fatigue has escalated from the occasional heavy-lidded battle to a full-on exhaustion war that drags on day after day, it is time to take back the power and set yourself free from its sinking shackles.

If you’re tired of being tired, read on to learn some tools you can arm yourself with to fight the fatigue and electrify your energy levels.

Tired all the Time—Why Do Our Energy Levels Drop as We Age?

As we age, many individuals find themselves grappling with persistent fatigue and a noticeable drop in energy levels.  This phenomenon can be attributed to a combination of multiple biological, lifestyle, and environmental factors.

For example, one key contributor behind this influx in fatigue is a process known as mitochondrial decay.

Mitochondrial decay refers to the gradual deterioration of the mitochondria, which are essential structures within our cells responsible for energy production. Over time, these microscopic powerhouses can experience a decline in both their quantity and efficiency.

This decay is often attributed to various factors, including oxidative stress and the accumulation of damage to mitochondrial DNA. As mitochondria lose their optimal function, the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy currency of cells, becomes less efficient. This results in the body being forced to function with only one-half to one-fourth of the energy that it once had in its youth.

While mitochondrial decay is a natural aspect of the ageing process, there are also several external factors that can accelerate this process such as sun damage, smoking, poor diet, stress, infections, pollution, and more.

Beyond the natural process of mitochondrial decay, other factors that have a significant impact on energy levels include the gradual decline in muscle mass and a decrease in metabolism that accompany the ageing process.

These changes result in reduced physical stamina and efficiency, making everyday tasks feel more demanding. Additionally, hormonal shifts, such as declining levels of growth hormone and changes in cortisol production, play a role in diminishing the body's ability to maintain consistent energy levels.

Furthermore, lifestyle factors such as poor sleep quality, inadequate nutrition, and sedentary habits can exacerbate the age-related decline in energy. Insufficient or disrupted sleep patterns, common among older adults, hinder the body's ability to recharge and repair during the night, leading to persistent tiredness during the day, and suboptimal dietary choices and hydration levels can impact energy levels, as the body may lack the necessary nutrients and hydration to function optimally.

Addressing these multifaceted aspects, including strategies to support mitochondrial health through lifestyle choices, becomes essential in understanding and managing the pervasive fatigue associated with ageing.

Ways That You Can Combat Low Energy Levels in Old Age

1. Make Sure That You are Eating Enough, Maintaining a Healthy Diet, and Staying Hydrated

It’s true what they say—You are what you eat...and drink. What we choose to put into our bodies often depicts an accurate reflection of our overall health.

As we age, many of our body’s processes begin to slow down to a crawl, including metabolism, appetite, perception of thirst, absorption of nutrients, and retention of water.

This is why eating healthy food that nourishes your body and staying hydrated has many benefits–especially as a senior.

Here are just a few of the positive effects that you can expect to experience with proper nutrition and water consumption:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Keeping your energy levels up
  • Reducing your risk of health conditions such as stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Helping your heart health
  • Aiding in slowing down the ageing process
  • Keeping your bones and joints strong and lubricated
  • Improving mental well-being
  • Keeping your immune system healthy
  • Allowing you to sleep better
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Supporting various bodily processes

To learn how you can start making lifestyle choices for a healthier diet that is sustainable, click here.

If you would like to learn some easy tips for upping your water consumption and keeping your body healthy and hydrated, click here.

2. Monitor Your Mental Health

There is a much stronger connection between our mental health and physical well-being than we often care to acknowledge.

For example, conditions such as chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and other negative mental states can contribute to physical ailments, fatigue, and a compromised immune system.

This is why taking care of mental health as a senior is vital for maintaining and even boosting energy levels.

As individuals age, they may face various life changes, including retirement, loss of loved ones, or health challenges, which can all impact mental well-being—One of the effects being lowered energy levels. 

However, engaging in activities that promote mental health, such as counselling, mindfulness practices, or social interactions, can help seniors manage this stress, anxiety, and depression.

When mental health is prioritised, the mind is better equipped to cope with life's challenges, leading to a more positive outlook and overall increased energy levels.

For tips on how to better manage your mental health, click here.

3. Exercise Your Brain and Body

It may seem counterintuitive that expending more energy with mental and physical exercise actually boosts your overall energy levels, but here’s why this seemingly contradicting statement is actually true.

Physical activity plays a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing cardiovascular health, which is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body's tissues, including the brain.

Among countless other benefits, regular physical exercise promotes better blood circulation, reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Improved cardiovascular health translates into increased energy levels, as the heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood, and the body's organs receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function optimally.

In a similar manner, mental exercises and activities can stimulate cognitive function and help maintain or even enhance brain health in seniors.

Mental stimulation, such as puzzles, learning new skills, or participating in social activities, for example, can contribute to the formation of new neural connections and the preservation of existing ones. This neuroplasticity is crucial for cognitive function, memory retention, and overall mental agility.

When seniors combine both physical and mental exercises, they create a synergistic effect. The increased blood flow from physical activity delivers more oxygen to the brain, while mental stimulation enhances neural connectivity.

This dual approach not only promotes a sharper mind but also boosts overall energy levels by supporting both physical and cognitive functions, ultimately contributing to a more active and fulfilling lifestyle in senior years.

So, work a crossword puzzle every day. Play board games with your grandchildren. Take slow, relaxing walks around the lake, or just try to move around the house more.

Remember that exercising your brain and body does not have to be intense in order for you to start reaping the benefits.

For advice on how you can start strengthening your mind, click here.

For examples of low-impact, effective physical exercises you can do as a senior that aren’t overexerting click here, and click here for exercises you can do even with limited mobility.

4. Get Sufficient Sleep

Despite the common societal stigma that seniors don’t need as much sleep as younger people, this simply is not true. In fact, it is recommended that people 65 and older get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.

However, alarmingly, researchers estimate that between 40 and 70 percent of older adults have chronic sleep issues that prevent them from getting the rest that they need, and up to half of these cases may be undiagnosed.

Furthermore, another study revealed that about 50 percent of people over the age of 55 have difficulty falling sleeping and maintaining a good night’s rest.

While getting enough sleep is important no matter how old you are, for seniors—a demographic that is particularly susceptible to health complications—sleep becomes even more vital and beneficial to overall health and well-being.

This is because getting the recommended hours of sleep every night allows your body to recharge, repair, as well as combat and ease symptoms of common age-associated diseases, conditions, complications, and disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, depression, lower energy levels, arthritis, diabetes, heart failure, and more.

Want to learn some steps you can take to start sleeping more soundly as a senior? Click here.

5. Fill Your Free Time with Things You Enjoy That Give You a Sense of Purpose

Retirement is something that we look forward to from the day that we start working and it dawns on us that rising with the sun, frequent caffeine fixes, and collapsing onto the couch completely exhausted at the end of another long day will be a large part of our lives for the next 50 years.

However, the truth is that retirement isn’t all sunshine and rainbows—Sometimes, with retirement comes complicated and confusing emotions that you never expected you’d experience.

In fact, after retirement, many seniors experience a perceived loss of identity, purpose, and meaning in life without a job, as well as boredom, isolation, and depression from suddenly having all of this free time on their hands that they don’t know how to fill.

Naturally, this perceived loss of self and purpose leads to a general disinterest in your life, causing your energy levels to plummet as you cope with these overwhelming, negative emotions.

However, retirement doesn’t have to feel this way. Retirement may mean that your career has come to an end, but it doesn’t mean that your life has come to an end—In fact, it’s just the beginning of a new era full of freedom, fresh opportunities, exploration, and adventures you’ve yet to experience.

Don’t let the spark of your passion and curiosity dim into darkness. Continue exploring the world and all of its wonders, mystery, and beauty. The possibilities of what you can accomplish and experience in this world and the ways in which you can choose to live your life are truly limitless.

Have you always wanted to learn how to play the piano or to speak French because you’ve always thought the language sounded beautiful and romantic? Do you ever wonder whether you would enjoy yoga classes or what it would be like to explore a foreign country that you’ve never visited? Do you wish that you knew how to bake and assemble a four-layer cake?

Stop wishing and wondering and start doing.

Not only does learning or experiencing something new combat boredom but scientifically, it also has been proven to improve your cognitive brain health, advance your problem-solving skills, and sharpen your memory, all of which are especially helpful for seniors who are already prone to experiencing significant cognitive decline as they age.

There’s a reason why this time in your life is known as your golden years. Your golden years are the perfect opportunity for you to do all of the things you’ve always wanted to but never had the time for.

To learn more about how you can find meaning in your life and make the most out of your treasured golden years, click here.

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