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What Causes Fatigue in Seniors?

June 15, 2023

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As we age, our bodies and minds undergo various changes that can lead to feelings of fatigue or tiredness. Fatigue is a common complaint among older adults and can significantly impact their quality of life. 

Our team at Franciscan Ministries, with senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, is sharing what causes fatigue in seniors to help you or someone you love better understand and manage feelings of extreme tiredness.

Sleeping Problems or Disorders

While it may seem like an obvious cause for fatigue, disrupted sleep is common among older adults since our sleep cycle, also known as the inner circadian rhythm, naturally goes through changes as we age.

Sleep disorders are also common in older adults and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia are just a few examples. These disorders can cause poor sleep quality, frequent waking and difficulty falling asleep, leading to daytime fatigue.

Chronic Illnesses

Chronic illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis can also cause fatigue. These illnesses can lead to inflammation, pain and discomfort, which can all contribute to feelings of fatigue. Additionally, the medications used to treat these conditions can have side effects that cause fatigue.


Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration due to changes in their bodies, such as a decrease in the body’s ability to retain water. Dehydration can cause fatigue, confusion and other symptoms affecting daily activities. To help prevent dehydration, individuals should drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily and increase their water intake during hot weather or if they are exercising.

Poor Nutrition

Nutrition is essential for maintaining overall health and energy levels. Unfortunately, older adults with poor nutrition habits may not be getting enough nutrients and calories to sustain their energy levels which is one of the main factors of what causes fatigue. This can be caused by a lack of appetite, difficulty chewing or swallowing or a lack of access to healthy food options.

Lack of Physical Activity

Whether due to mobility or interest, some older adults become less active as they age, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity can cause muscle weakness, stiffness and a decrease in overall energy levels. 

Seniors should incorporate regular physical activity into their daily routine, such as walking, swimming or yoga, to help fight fatigue and boost energy levels. However, talk with your doctor before changing your exercise routine to determine which activities would be best for you.

Medication Side Effects

As we age, taking multiple medications for various health conditions or concerns is common. However, these medications can have side effects that cause fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms that can affect daily life. You should speak to a healthcare provider if you are experiencing any side effects from medication.


Depression is a common mental health condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness and fatigue. Older adults may also experience other symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed, all of which can affect energy levels and increase feelings of fatigue.


Anemia is when the body does not have enough red blood cells, which can cause fatigue and weakness. Individuals with anemia may also experience shortness of breath, dizziness and pale skin. Anemia can be caused by a lack of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid and can be tested for and treated with dietary changes, vitamins and medications.


What causes fatigue in older adults can range from changes to the body to medication side efforts. However, understanding these causes can help individuals and family members manage and alleviate symptoms. Older adults should speak to their healthcare provider if they are experiencing fatigue or any other symptoms affecting their daily life. With proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to improve energy levels and boost overall health and wellbeing. 

Additionally, individuals should maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, good nutrition and hydration, to help manage fatigue and prevent further health problems.

For more tips on healthy aging or to learn more about our senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, we invite you to visit our website and explore our blog.