Fatigue, Energy and Aging
Older People Can Run Low On Energy
Gretchen Heuring | ElderThink | 11.3.10
Feeling tired in later life can come as a surprise. One day we realize that we are putting things off for a day when we expect we will fell better and stronger. We think fatigue shows up because we are growing old. Tiredness in old age is a syndrome called Anergia.
Actually, the internal warning bells should be clanging. It's very possible that we have entered a downward spiral that will cost us muscle tone, creativity, and even happiness. We need to pay attention to a few things.
Yes, we need sunlight. Often retired people do not go outside for days at a time. Open the blinds and let the light in, even if it is raining! There is a benefit to daylight in your life every day. Go outside for a short walk each day if you possibly can. Sunlight gives us vitamin D which is good for our eyesight and our skin responds by darkening just a little to protect us.
Are you drinking enough water? It's easy to become partly dehydrated and this state will influence your energy levels. Feeling thirsty can sometimes be mistaken for food hunger or tiredness. Take a big drink of water and see if you feel better. If you pay attention, you might find that you brighten right up.
What about food? Do you find yourself craving sweets? Sugar can give you a rush but leave you feeling tired. Any type of fruit is better for you. Try hard to stay away from sweetened cereals and then try honey instead of sugar.
Eating the right combinations of foods makes a difference in your energy too. Your body needs fiber. We used to call it "roughage" and it is found in fruits and vegetables. Older people need five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
How is your balance? How long can you stand on one foot? To protect yourself against falling, you need to keep your legs and back strong. Try this: put a small sofa cushion on the floor. Take off your shoes and try standing on that cushion with one foot. Try every day. That's your goal. (Be sure to have a sturdy chair back nearby to take hold of if you lose your balance!) When you are good at standing on the cushion, try doing it while holding a can of soup in each hand. Lift that soup over your head.
Are you sleeping well? Need naps? You can get sleep deprived pretty quickly and you might need to learn some tricks for going to sleep and staying that way. A little exercise during the day, cutting back on sugars and alcohol at bedtime, and a well-balanced food plan can really help your sleep. Even if you need to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, you will go back to sleep more quickly if you are taking care of your body.
It may come as no surprise that sunlight, water, food, muscle tone and sleep are all interactive. Not enough of any one of these can cause shortages in the others. Pay attention! Live longer, live well.