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March 13, 2020

How seniors in independent living retirement communities can fight symptoms of fatigue

The Senior Care Experts at Ecumenical Retirement Community

Now and then everyone gets a little tired. As a senior, you may start feeling the effects of aging in ways like losing energy, needing more sleep, and not having the same spring in your step. These feelings are completely normal and are to be expected as you get older.

Fatigue, however, is different. It can become a lingering issue if not taken seriously or treated properly. What was once occasional fatigue could become chronic fatigue over time, which can lead to side effects of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and feeling even more tired than before. These conditions can become difficult to detect as you start to settle into a less strenuous lifestyle and spend more time focusing on relaxing activities. Fatigue can also be a symptom of more serious illnesses. For these reasons, it’s important, and beneficial, for seniors to be aware of fatigue symptoms and other behavioral changes that may come with aging.

Thankfully, there are many ways to fight fatigue before it becomes a major health concern. Some of the most effective ways to work through decreasing energy levels can be done from the comfort of your own home, apartment, or within the facilities of independent living retirement communities. We’ve seen firsthand the impact of proper care against fatigue at Ecumenical Retirement Community in Harrisburg, PA. And there’s a good chance these suggestions will help you get that spring back in your step.

Fatigue doesn’t have to impact your senior living experience. Whether you want to be proactive or are only starting to feel more tired than usual, try taking the following steps towards fighting fatigue and the negative side effects that can come with it.

Eat every meal

It should come as no surprise that eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial for your physical and mental health. Cutting out snacks like potato chips and candies will do a lot of good the older you get. The food we eat fuels our bodies, and if you skip out on a meal, your body will be missing out on nutrients needed to keep you feeling sharp throughout the day. And if you’re skipping meals to lose weight or cut back on calories, you could experience more than just fatigue, but also cravings, headaches, and overeating during your next meal. Make sure you talk to a doctor within your retirement facility or a nutritionist to find the right diet for you.

Start a fatigue diary

Information is key when dealing with changes to your overall health. Keeping a fatigue diary will help you or your doctor find any patterns that could be forming in your behavior. Mark down the time of day you started feeling fatigued, what you were doing, how you tried to combat it, and any other symptoms that you experienced outside of just feeling tired. This will give you the foundation for a more thorough conversation with your doctor or personal care team, should you find that you can’t fight symptoms on your own. For instance, if you’re finding that your fatigue is accompanied by confusion, this can indicate to your care team that increased services like memory support should be considered. This is an added benefit to independent living retirement communities. With quality care accessible to residents, any behavioral changes you’re beginning to notice can be attended to swiftly.

Exercise regularly

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, lack of exercise is one of the most common reasons for increased fatigue – at any age. As you settle into retirement, it’s important that you introduce new routines that keep you active so that your body can be conditioned in healthy ways. Seniors don’t have to train for a marathon, but they should at the very least get up and out for fresh air and a nice walk daily. Not only will this help your body function better, it will help your mental health as well. Of course, some seniors can find themselves in a position where they’re either in a wheelchair or no longer have the ability to walk on their own. But there are still plenty of ways that you can get the exercise you need to fight fatigue, and the staff at Ecumenical Retirement Community are happy to work with residents to find the right solutions.

Practice mindfulness with meditation or yoga

The brain is a busy place. Habits like overthinking, worrying, or looking at TV and computer screens too often during the day or night can have a great effect on your energy levels. Sometimes you need to give your brain a break to keep it healthy. Your heart may keep your body running, but your brain keeps everything functioning, and neither should be overworked. Finding a way to focus on brain health will do both your mind and your energy levels a lot of good. Meditation and yoga are two ways that seniors particularly can find relief from fatigue symptoms. These practices will aid in training your mind to be more in tune with your body’s needs. Programs that promote wellness of the body and mind are accessible within many independent living retirement communities, so check with your care team to learn what options are available to you.

Quit smoking

This tip is pretty simple. Smoking decreases lung function – among many other harmful effects – which can directly contribute to fatigue. Work with your doctor to quit your smoking habit and you’ll certainly see an increase in energy. Seniors in many retirement communities work towards this goal for the betterment of their senior living experience, and it can be helpful to know that you are not alone in your journey to quit smoking.

Get the sleep you need

Everyone is a little bit different, so there’s no way to say the exact amount of sleep every person should get. But there is a lot of science backing the health benefits of a good night’s rest. This typically means between seven to eight hours every night. Without a solid sleep routine, your energy levels will waver throughout the day, leaving you feeling many of the symptoms that come along with fatigue like headaches, drowsiness, decreased happiness, less focus, and the need for an afternoon nap. With that being said, naps can be incredibly beneficial if you really need them. A productive nap should last no longer than 40 minutes. If you need a longer nap to feel rested during the day, you’ll know you need to adjust your sleep routine or talk to your doctor.

Additionally, if you have trouble falling asleep you can try a range of natural remedies like drinking teas, reading before bed, and turning off any electronic screens that could wake you up in the night.

Reconsider caffeine intake

This might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to get a boost of energy, but caffeine could do you more harm than good when it comes to fatigue. Relying heavily on the beverage can leave you ignoring remedies that will give your body the benefits it needs in the long run to solve your fatigue symptoms. It can also cause a heavy crash when the effect wears off. This could leave you feeling less energetic than before you had your cup of coffee, and the fight with fatigue will start all over again.

Participate in a group activity

Even introverted seniors can gain energy from activities involving other people. Group activities require you to focus, use your cognitive abilities, and expose you to new thoughts and opinions. Learning new skills or growing your current abilities have many positive effects on the brain and are crucial even for seniors. All of these benefits will give you the happy endorphins your body needs to create the energy that will fight fatigue. This is also another wonderful reason that independent living retirement communities like ours can be impactful for seniors in the Harrisburg area. Providing a supportive environment with access to various activities is only one of many initiatives that drive our senior living services and mission of quality care.

Know When to Talk to Your Doctor

Most importantly, know when it’s time to talk to your doctor. If after following all of these suggestions you find you can’t fight fatigue alone, it might be time to get others to help. Your doctor will be able to help you pinpoint the cause of your fatigue, rule out possible illnesses that could be attributed to your symptoms, and will help you to stay on track with new treatment or medication. If you’re living in a retirement community like Ecumenical, the staff can assist you with your recovery.

With a wide variety of activities and recreation opportunities available, we are here to support our residents in every stage of aging. To learn more about our independent living retirement community and the services offered at Ecumenical Retirement Community in Harrisburg, PA, please contact us. You can also schedule a visit to see the work we do within our community firsthand. Our staff welcomes your questions and are happy to work with you and your family to provide the quality care you deserve.

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