Vitality. Enthusiasm. Vibrant. Do these words reflect who you are as a senior adult? At Bethesda, we make these elements of wellness a priority within our independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing communities.

We believe that just because you are aging doesn’t mean you have to surrender to your recliner or your couch. There are many things you can do to remain happily active and engaged in life.

First, let us examine some things that can drain you of your energy. We will also address tips for staying energized as you age.

Causes of Fatigue

Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pain, and sleep disorders can cause fatigue, as can heart, kidney, liver and thyroid diseases. Struggles with cognitive challenges or the overuse of alcohol to compensate for physical and emotional pain can also overwhelm seniors.

Certain medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines and medicines for nausea or pain can be draining on energy levels.

If you have felt especially tired for weeks, it may be time to see your physician. Better management of a health problem or a medication review with your doctor may identify causes for your persistent fatigue.

Feeling scared about the future, financial worries, grief from the loss of a loved one, or a sense that you have lost control of your life are de-energizing, and counseling should be considered.

Tips to Stay Energized

Eat well. The foods you consume have a huge bearing on how energetic you feel.

Carbohydrate-heavy diets can leave you feeling sluggish. However, there is a difference between simple carbs, like sugary soda, baked treats, cookies, and many breakfast cereals that dietitians recommend we avoid and the good carbs (called complex carbs).

Complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, oats and peas pack more nutrients, are higher in fiber, and digest more slowly than simple carbs, which makes them more filling and thus a better option for weight control and, therefore, better for staying energized.

Other ideal foods include whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein such as poultry or fish. Stay away from processed foods as best you can. You may also want to consult your physician about supplements, especially if medical conditions require you to avoid certain foods.

Eating smaller meals more frequently helps sustain energy levels and avoids periods of sluggishness. Don’t skip breakfast, even if you don’t feel hungry. Breakfast helps replenish the fuel and nutrients your body needs to make your muscles and brain work efficiently.

Drink plenty of fluids. As you age, you may not notice when you are thirsty, and as we get older, we tend to lose water content in our body. People require different amounts of fluids, depending upon body weight, activity level, and even weather conditions. Some experts recommend one cup of fluid for every 20 pounds of body weight. However, you may want to consult your physician. Fluid from coffee*, tea, soup or water-rich foods count.

*Drink coffee in moderation. While coffee can help wake you up, it can have the reverse effect in large quantities, leading to a return of fatigue when it leaves the body’s system. It can also create anxiety and insomnia. Substitute green tea instead. It has about 1/3 of the caffeine as coffee and provides some digestive benefits, and studies suggest green tea improves focus and mental clarity.

Keep moving. To maintain your energy levels, you have to expend some energy. Stand up and walk in place during TV commercials. Take a walk throughout the house or outside if weather permits and you are physically able to safely do so. Cardiovascular and strength training are recommended for seniors. However, consult your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.

Get plenty of sleep. It is recommended that adults 65 and older get 7-8 hours of sleep at night, and try to avoid naps of more than 30 minutes during the day.

Exercise your mind. Read, work puzzles, play games, pursue a hobby, call a friend or family member, learn something new. Find something to get excited about. Boredom is an enemy of energy.

Avoid smoking. This is a good idea at any age. While nicotine produces a short burst of energy, the effect is short-lived. Smokers experience more drastic drops in energy levels than non-smokers, and their diminished lung capacity robs the brain and muscles of oxygen needed to sustain them at peak efficiency.

Limit alcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but you may experience disruptions later in your sleep cycle that decreases sleep quality.

Find more tips to stay healthy and invigorated on our blog!

With 133 years of experience, our non-profit has set the bar for quality and compassionate senior living in St. Louis. If you are considering independent living, we encourage you to tour our communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster. With our full spectrum of care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, rest assured that all of your care needs will be met by highly-trained nurses and aides.