What It’s Like Being an Older Woman with Fibromyalgia

What It’s Like Being an Older Woman with Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog

Being an older woman with fibromyalgia is challenging. I’m unable to do things that my mother can do in her 80s. I know I’m not alone in that. I’m 20 years younger than my mom, but I feel so much older than her. 

According to a 2007 study titled, “Self-Assessed Physical Function Levels Of Women with Fibromyalgia: A National Survey,” published in the journal Women’s Health Issues

“More than 25% of women reported having difficulty taking care of personal needs and bathing, and >60% reported difficulty doing light household tasks, going up/down 1 flight of stairs, walking ½ mile, and lifting or carrying 10 lbs. More than 90% of women reported having difficulty doing heavy household tasks, lifting or carrying 25 lbs, and doing strenuous activities. Women with lower functional ability reported higher levels of fatigue, pain, spasticity, depression, restless legs, balance problems, dizziness, fear of falling, and bladder problems.”

I personally struggle with showering. I’m OK if I wait and wash my hair another day, but lifting my arms overhead to wash and rinse my hair feels like I’m lifting 5-pound weights instead of my arms. It’s so tiring.

My light household tasks involve wiping down the counters, emptying the dishwasher, and doing laundry, but never all at once. I need several hours in between to rest.

We keep a gallon of spring water next to our Keurig machine, and lifting that to fill the receptacle takes both hands. It’s too heavy unless I support it underneath with my other hand. 

I don’t do stairs unless there’s only a few, and elevators are my best friend. I’m unable to wash floors, clean the bathroom, or even vacuum. I don’t have the strength or energy required anymore. That makes me feel so OLD!

I can cook if it’s something really quick, because standing too long makes my legs feel like limp spaghetti. I no longer do the grocery shopping, I just help put them away — energy permitting, of course.

I definitely consider myself a woman with lower functional ability. Although my pain levels aren’t too bad if the weather cooperates, my fatigue is off the charts. I also struggle daily with balance issues (my potential to fall is greatly increased), dizziness, depression (although with medication it is well-controlled), and muscle spasms.

I choose daily to maintain a positive outlook in spite of all the issues that fibromyalgia brings my way. 

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

15 comments

  1. Christine Lynch says:

    Robin:
    I’m sure that you, like me, have some days that are better than others. I’m hoping that today is a better day for you.

  2. Becky says:

    I am a 66 year old woman and was diagnosed years ago. However, the fatique seems to grow worse with age…how much is age and how much is the fibro???Does anything help???

    • Robin Dix says:

      Becky, my fatigue has gotten worse over time. It’s hard to know how much of that is due to FM and how much to just getting older. I have yet to find something that helps

  3. Christine McGougan says:

    I’m 58 and a part-time housekeeper on a Country Estate. I’m having to give up my job because of fibromyalgia, had to rehome my little dog and I live on my own. In two months time I don’t know what will become of me. It’s an awful condition that renders me useless. I hope that your good days are more than the bad ones…….we’ll all struggle on…

  4. sandra dunbar says:

    I don’t think I could make it without my dog….She’s the only thing that keeps me from crying every day. My previous dog kept me from jumping off the sofa (or a low bridge ) !!!

    • Robin Dix says:

      Sandra, is so hard suffering every day isn’t it? If you’re on Facebook I encourage you to find a fibromyalgia group that can meet some of your needs for community and support

  5. henry bowns says:

    I too felt like I could of written it, except I am a man. My brother has it as well. Why write as if women only have it?

    • Robin Dix says:

      Henry, I apologise, I was writing from my perspective as a woman. Although the majority of people with fibro are women, men most definitely get it as well. Did you know there are some good Facebook groups for men with fibro? Perhaps I could interview you for a future column

  6. TigerKim says:

    I am 55, and in my 6th year if Fibro. Your article is like a breath of fresh air; I am struggling with all the same things, and it’s good to read similar “validation” for my situation. At the same time, I am also free of some very stressful problems I had when I was younger. I can’t say I am unhappy; I just take each day at a time and have learned to scale down my expectations & accomplishments into tiny, bite sizes.

  7. patricia fraser says:

    I am on low dose Naltrexone, compounded pharmacy makes it. Also on Gralise, time released Gabepentin, also on Abilify 2 mg. and 25 mg Zoloft. These all seem to to help except when weather, seasons change then I am back to flair ups. Also on Aderall. Cannot spell today either, very low energy. I try and get B12 shot twice month.

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