Tiredness in older people linked to shorter lifespan, study finds

Credit: Unsplash+

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have made a striking discovery that could change the way we view tiredness in older adults.

Their study reveals that feeling extremely tired or exhausted after routine activities could be an early warning sign of a shorter lifespan.

This research stands out because it’s the first to directly link severe fatigue with an increased risk of dying sooner. By examining how tired individuals felt after doing everyday tasks, the scientists aimed to understand how fatigue affects longevity.

The heart of this study was the Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale, a tool created by the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. This scale has gained international recognition, now available in 11 languages, and was crucial in assessing participants’ fatigue levels accurately.

Involving 2,906 people aged 60 and above from the Long-Life Family Study, participants were asked to rate on a scale from 0 to 5 their expected tiredness from activities such as a 30-minute walk, light housework, or more demanding tasks like heavy gardening.

The results were telling. Those scoring 25 or more on the Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale had a 2.3 times higher risk of passing away within the next 2.7 years compared to those who scored below 25.

This clear pattern underscored the role of fatigue as a potent predictor of mortality risk among the elderly.

Beyond its immediate findings, the study emphasizes the importance of recognizing and managing fatigue in older adults.

It also showcases the value of the Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale as a resource for health professionals and researchers to better understand and address tiredness in this population.

This contribution is part of a larger conversation about aging well. It aligns with existing research that supports healthy lifestyle choices—like maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity—as keys to preventing diseases and extending life.

The implications of this study are profound, suggesting that feelings of fatigue in older adults could signal more than just a need for rest; they could be an indicator of overall health and life expectancy.

Addressing fatigue, therefore, could play a crucial role in enhancing health outcomes for the elderly, making it an essential consideration for both individuals and healthcare providers.

Published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, the research led by Nancy W. Glynn and her team offers new insights into the connections between fatigue, health, and aging.

It highlights the significance of paying attention to fatigue as a factor in healthy aging and longevity, opening up new avenues for improving the well-being of older adults.

If you care about wellness, please read studies about how ultra-processed foods and red meat influence your longevity, and why seafood may boost healthy aging.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.