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Research might change perceptions of aging

December 16, 2013

There's a general perception that older adults are more tired than their younger counterparts, but a new study conducted at the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests otherwise. Based on statistics from the American Time Use Study from 2010, researchers found that the youngest participants in the study - those between 15 and 24 - felt the most tired, according to results published in the Journals of Gerontology Series B.

Variety of causes
The survey asked nearly 13,000 people to chronicle their activities on certain days. Researchers randomly selected activities and called on participants to gauge how tired they felt - on a scale of 0 to 6 - on a given day. Interestingly, researchers found that the average fatigue score was about 2.5 among the youngest participants but only 1.8 for the older adults. Experts say there are a number of reasons for the surprising findings, such as better time management and fewer distractions that take up their time. The results could have a big impact on how society views senior living.

"This is a provocative paper, which raises much thought about what it means to be tired in old age," Donald Bliwise, from Emory University School of Medicine, told Reuters Health. "[The study is] challenging many preconceived perceptions of fatigue and tiredness in old age."

Boost to energy
Despite the fact the study suggests seniors may have more energy than one might think, it certainly doesn't hurt to give themselves a boost. One of the best ways for seniors to stave off fatigue is to head outside. Getting out in the sun can not only put seniors in a better mood but provide them with a good source of vitamin D as well.

Diet and hydration can also play a significant role, notes. Foods that are too high in sugar, for example, can leave seniors feeling tired quicker than they would otherwise. In a similar vein, drinking water can boost energy levels, experts say, as  feelings of dehydration are easy to confuse with feelings of tiredness.