7 Tips for Keeping Up With Your Grandkids

July 31, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Arunima Sarkar, M.D. contributes to topics such as Geriatric Medicine.

Babysitting or spending time with young grandkids can leave you happy and fulfilled—it can also leave you physically exhausted. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to prevent feeling exhausted after a day watching a little one.

According to geriatric medicine specialist Arunima Sarkar, M.D., the older we get, the more our energy levels tend to take a hit. “Our muscles lose mass, flexibility wanes, and our heart pumps more slowly,” Dr. Sarkar says. “Plus if you have medical conditions like sleep apnea, diabetes and arthritis, and there’s a good chance you’ve lost a significant amount of the vigor you once had.”

To prevent feeling exhausted after a day of activity:

  1. Focus on sleep. Strive for seven to nine hours a night. If you feel like you should be waking up well-rested but still feel groggy and fatigued, consider visiting your doctor. He or she can check for conditions that can impede your sleep like sleep apnea. Try to avoid fluids, caffeine and TV before going to bed, and avoid daytime naps.
  1. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. It’s important to eat a healthy diet. A balanced diet full of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains and lean proteins, will help you feel more energetic.
  1. Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can cause your energy levels to wane significantly. It’s especially important to be cognizant of how much water you drink as you age, as older adults don’t always feel as thirsty. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
  1. Check your medications. Some common medications prescribed to older adults (like high blood pressure drugs and antihistamines) can cause daytime drowsiness. Review your medications with your doctor, who might be able to prescribe an alternative that won’t diminish your energy levels quite as much. Please speak with your primary care doctor before you take any over-the-counter medication.
  1. Get physical. Make sure you’re exercising at least three to five times a week. Although you might feel tired after a tough workout, regular physical activity actually boosts your overall energy levels. The World Health Organization recommends adults 65 and older strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. If the thought of starting a new exercise regimen scares you, ease in with something simple like brisk walking, even for just 30 minutes.
  1. Get your Vitamin D levels checked. Older adults are more at risk for a vitamin D deficiency than their younger counterparts. If you’ve taken all of the above steps but still feel worn out, get your vitamin D levels checked at your next doctor’s appointment.
  1. Kick the alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime, can interfere with your body’s ability to get restful sleep each night. A drink every so often is OK, but if a nightcap (or two) is part of your daily routine, you might consider cutting out alcohol and seeing if your energy levels rise.

“By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly, it will make it easier to keep up with your grandchildren for years to come,” Dr. Sarkar concludes.

Next Steps & Resources:

Sources:

World Health Organization

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