The false illusion is that as we age, we must feel tired and become weaker—this is not necessarily true. Sure, we may slow down as we get older, but feeling tired and weak doesn’t have to be a part of aging. In fact, these symptoms may actually mean something more serious, especially if they are overlooked.
Geriatrician Dr. Jeanne Wei explained, “People have a perception, promulgated by our culture, that aging equals decline. That’s just wrong and we’re lucky to live in an age when many remedies are available.”
As we age, we slow down, that part is inevitable. But if symptoms like tiredness, weakness, and even depression appear suddenly, then these symptoms are definite warning signs for something else.
Here are four common symptoms that seniors complain about that may indicate something more serious:
Tiredness: Tiredness and fatigue that limits a person’s independence and sociability is a serious problem. Nearly one-third of adults over the age of 51 experience fatigue, which can be attributed to medications, medical conditions, sleep problems, poor nutrition, and alcohol consumption. The good news is that all of these problems can be addressed if you speak to your doctor to uncover your cause of tiredness and fatigue.
Another large factor is living a sedentary life, which is why it’s so important that seniors continue to remain active to boost energy levels.
Loss of appetite: If you’ve been losing weight and your appetite has been on the decline, you can’t necessarily blame that on age alone. Not eating enough puts you at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Contributing factors to loss of appetite are declining vision and taste, which can make food seem less appealing. Other factors include declining saliva production, constipation, depression, social isolation, dental problems, illness, and medications, which can affect taste buds.
To improve this, treating dental problems, making food tastier with spices, switching medications, and eating with others is effective.
Depression: Depression in late life can result from living many years with chronic illness, disability, or changes in cognition. It was previously believed that seniors naturally turned away from the world—known as melancholia—as a result of knowing their days are limited. In actuality, the latest findings suggest these people are actually much happier than other age groups.
Therefore, late-life depression is a result of something else, usually related to illness. There are treatments available for seniors experiencing depression, but the challenge is many seniors feel stigmatized, so many cases go undiagnosed. Having depression go untreated can result in far more health complications, so it’s important you speak to someone regarding sudden changes in mood.
Weakness: Muscle loss—known as sarcopenia—can reduce strength. There are many preventative measures you can take to maintain muscle as you age. This includes regular exercise, eating protein-rich meals, and addressing any underlying health issue that can contribute to inflammation. Although you won’t regain the strength you had in your 20s or 30s, you can still stay strong enough to prevent injury and live an independent life.
As you can see, all of these symptoms can be attributed to a cause that can be treated. It’s important that you tell your doctor about any sudden change in your health so that the exact cause can be addressed.