They conducted a study of more than 2,100 New York City residents, aged from 65 to 104, and found that almost one in five reported so little energy and they spent most of the day sitting on the sofa.
"For clinicians, the message from our study is that a lack of energy is widespread in the elderly, but it's not normal," said senior author Dr. Mathew Maurer, an associate professor of the clinical medicine at the CUMC.
In the study, participants were classified as anergic if they said they sat around due to lack of energy and agreed with two of the six following statements: "I recently have not had enough energy;" "I felt slowed physically in the past month;" "I did less than usual in the past month;" "My slowness is worse in the morning; " "I wake up feeling tired;" "I nap more than two hours a day."
The study showed that 18 percent of participants classified as anergic reported more arthritis, sleep disorders, cardiovascular symptoms and other health problems.
They also reported twice as many overnight hospitalizations, emergency department visits and home care services.
Also, anergia was linked to a 60-percent greater rate of death in the six years after participants were surveyed, according to the study.
The study found that heart and kidney dysfunction, arthritis, lung disease, anemia, and depression are among the many conditions that may cause anergia.
The study is published in the August issue of the Journal of Gerontology.