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A Resident’s Lack of Energy Could Indicate Underlying Critical Health Problems

The experience of symptoms indicates common and burdensome issues for older adults, especially for patients suffering from a variety of chronic diseases.  They significantly influence the person’s quality of life and overall functioning, could indicate risk factors for more serious problems, and are credited for increasing the use of health care and associated expenses.  Thus, it is important for elderly care providers and other specialists to identify, assess, and treat these symptoms.  Anergia, defined as the self-perceived lack of energy, is a prevalent complaint among older adults that is related to negative health outcomes.  In a recent study, about every one out of two older adults with comorbid diseases reported experiencing a lack of energy during the previous week, resulting in high levels of distress.

Lack of energy affects multiple dimensions of wellbeing and is shown to be related to various adverse conditions, such as decreased physical, mental, social, and psychological function.  Individuals who reported having lack of energy tended to have increased use of health care services (such as having a higher hospitalization rate and greater number of outpatient visits).  This symptom is also indicative of future mortality in elderly people.  Research exploring cardiovascular syndromes prove that lack of energy is highly associated with a variety of comorbid conditions, decreased functional ability, quality of life, and future negative health-related events.

Older adults in nursing home facilities are particularly affected by anergia. However, not many studies have been done that have explored how this symptom impacts these vulnerable people and its effect on the health care system.  It is well known that the vast majority of elderly people in these long-term care facilities are extremely vulnerable and have complex clinical issues.  Furthermore, they are likely to suffer from acute diseases or exacerbated chronic conditions, resulting in negative outcomes, such as hospitalization. In a recent study published in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA), researchers hypothesized that the self-reported anergia symptom could act as an indicator of future adverse outcomes even among the most complicated older adult patients as those living in nursing home facilities. Therefore, the study’s aim was to explore the possible relationship between lack of energy and two clinically important outcomes (i.e., hospitalization and mortality) in nursing home facility residents.

The study’s results showed that, consistent with previous findings, anergia is associated with older ages and poor functional status.  Moreover, the study found that there was a significant relationship between lack of energy and greater use of health care services.  According to Cheng et al., the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations were almost twice as much in those with anergia.  Furthermore, even in assisted living facility residents, those with dementia and fatigue were at increased risk of hospitalization.

This study emphasizes the need for care staff to have better consideration of the belief of lack of energy in elderly people residing in long-term care settings.  It is crucial that care staff recognize and alleviate any relevant symptoms in multimorbid patients in order to enhance their quality of life.  This type of quality care is essential for older adult residents with highly complex profiles. If you or someone you love has been in a nursing home or assisted living facility, such as one in Baldwin Park or Bell, California, and has experience poor quality of care, you may be a victim of elder abuse or neglect. Contact our office today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experts in elder law and will pursue your case with compassion and vigor.