What causes sudden extreme fatigue in elderly? What causes sudden extreme fatigue in elderly?
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What causes sudden extreme fatigue in elderly?

A common issue that often crops up among elderly individuals is sudden extreme fatigue. If you're an elderly person feeling unusually tired, or if you're looking after an elderly person dealing with this challenge, it's essential to understand what might be causing it.

That’s why we’ve put together this blog exploring the most common reasons behind sudden extreme fatigue. From medical conditions to everyday choices, we'll dive into the factors that could be affecting energy levels in an elderly individual.

Medical Conditions

When it comes to feeling unusually tired, sometimes it's not just a matter of getting more rest.

Medical conditions can sneak up on us, impacting our energy levels in unexpected ways. In this section, we'll explore some common health issues that can leave elderly adults feeling fatigued. These may include:


Anaemia is common among the elderly and occurs when the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells or haemoglobin to carry adequate oxygen to tissues and organs. This shortage of oxygen can leave you feeling tired and weak, even with minimal activity.

Anaemia in older adults can result from various factors like nutritional deficiencies, chronic diseases, or gastrointestinal issues. Treatment typically involves addressing the underlying cause, which might include dietary changes, supplements, or medical treatments like blood transfusions.

Thyroid Disorders

Your thyroid gland regulates your body's metabolism and energy levels. When thyroid disorders like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism occur, they can seriously affect your energy levels. Hyperthyroidism causes an overactive thyroid, leading to symptoms like weight loss and extreme fatigue. Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, slows down bodily functions, causing persistent tiredness. Medications are usually prescribed to balance out hormone levels and manage thyroid disorders effectively.

Heart Disease

Heart problems, such as heart failure or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), can significantly impact energy levels in an elderly person. Heart failure reduces the heart's ability to pump blood effectively, causing weakness and fatigue. Arrhythmias disrupt the heart's rhythm, compromising blood flow and leading to exhaustion. Lifestyle changes and medications can often help improve heart function and restore energy levels.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) causes persistent and debilitating fatigue, along with symptoms like muscle pain and brain fog. While more commonly associated with younger individuals, CFS can affect elderly individuals too. Diagnosis involves ruling out other medical conditions with similar symptoms, and treatment focuses on managing symptoms through medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders, including sleep apnoea and insomnia, can significantly impact sleep quality and contribute to daytime fatigue in elderly adults. Sleep apnoea disrupts breathing during sleep, while insomnia causes difficulty falling or staying asleep. Treatments range from lifestyle changes to breathing devices or medications, tailored to the specific sleep disorder and individual needs.

Medication Side Effects

Many medications commonly prescribed to older adults can cause fatigue as a side effect. From blood pressure medications to antidepressants, these drugs may leave you feeling more tired than usual. It's essential to discuss any unusual symptoms with your general practitioner, who can help identify if your medications are contributing to fatigue and explore alternatives if needed.

Lifestyle Factors

Along with medical conditions, daily habits also affect energy levels, and this is especially true for elderly individuals experienced extreme fatigue. From staying active to managing stress, lifestyle choices play a big role in our well-being. Read on for a more in-depth look at the lifestyle factors that could be impacting your energy levels.

Lack of Physical Activity

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for elderly adults to combat muscle weakness and reduced stamina, which can significantly impact energy levels. Incorporating regular exercise, such as walking, swimming, or light aerobics, not only strengthens muscles but also enhances overall vitality and well-being.

To read our guide on the best exercises for the elderly, please click here.

Poor Sleep Habits

Establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a conducive sleep environment are essential for promoting optimal sleep quality among elderly adults. Adequate rest plays a pivotal role in replenishing energy levels and alleviating daytime tiredness.

Stress and Anxiety

The detrimental effects of chronic stress and anxiety on energy levels are well-documented, particularly in elderly individuals. Engaging in stress-reducing techniques, including deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can effectively mitigate the adverse impact of psychological distress on overall vitality.

Social Isolation

Social connectedness serves as a vital determinant of emotional well-being and energy levels among older adults. Maintaining active social engagement with friends, family, and community networks can mitigate feelings of loneliness and exhaustion, fostering a sense of belonging and bolstering overall mood and energy.

Environmental Factors

Our surroundings can have a profound impact on how we feel. From the temperature outside to the air we breathe, environmental factors play a significant role in our energy levels. In this section, we'll explore how these external influences can affect sudden extreme fatigue in elderly adults.

Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures pose significant challenges for older adults, impacting thermoregulation and exacerbating fatigue. Adhering to appropriate measures, such as staying adequately hydrated, dressing in weather-appropriate attire, and seeking refuge in climate-controlled environments, can help mitigate the adverse effects of extreme weather conditions on energy levels.

Exposure to Pollutants

Environmental pollutants pose risks to respiratory health, particularly among elderly persons living with pre-existing conditions. Implementing strategies to minimise exposure, such as utilising indoor air purification systems, avoiding areas with high pollution levels, and adopting smoke-free environments, can safeguard respiratory function and mitigate fatigue associated with environmental pollutants.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Poor nutrition can also play a significant role in sudden extreme fatigue among elderly adults. Deficiencies in essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, or folate can lead to tiredness and weakness. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins is essential. If you suspect nutritional deficiencies, talk to your doctor about supplements or dietary changes to boost your energy levels.

Elderly individuals may also be more prone to dehydration due to factors like decreased thirst sensation or medication side effects. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, so it's crucial to ensure adequate fluid intake throughout the day.

As you can see, sudden extreme fatigue in elderly individuals can stem from a multitude of factors, including (but not limited to) medical conditions, medication side effects, nutritional deficiencies, lifestyle choices, and environmental influences. Identifying the underlying cause is crucial for effectively managing fatigue and improving quality of life.

Additionally, incorporating tools like the YourStride Alarm Watch can provide added peace of mind for older adults, offering 24/7 emergency support and automatic fall detection to ensure prompt assistance when needed, YourStride empowers the elderly to live independently while staying safe. By addressing these factors and taking proactive steps, older adults can manage fatigue and enjoy a more vibrant and fulfilling quality of life.

For more information on the YourStride Alarm Watch, please click here.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.