/ Sept-Oct 2006 / Fighting Caregiver Fatigue
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Fighting Caregiver Fatigue
By Kristine Dwyer, Staff
(Page 2 of 3)
The physical consequences of
sleep deprivation can include changes in appetite (weight gain or
loss), frequent infections, addictions to alcohol or prescription
drugs, problems with focusing, droopy eyelids and increased
sensitivity to pain. In addition, lack of sleep can interfere with
the body’s ability to regulate insulin production and the metabolism
of sugar, putting caregivers at a higher risk of developing
There are several ways that
caregivers can take steps to fight fatigue and improve their
physical and mental health.
1. Recognize that fatigue is
present and that it is negatively affecting daily life.
2. Seek solutions to alleviate
fatigue and sleep loss.
3. Carry out these solutions
with the help of family, friends or hired services.
One caregiver in a support group
shared that she actually used respite care in her home to get a
much-needed nap three times a week. Another woman asked family
members to stay overnight once or twice a week to allow her a full
night of rest. An important consideration is for caregivers to step
back, set personal limits and encourage the care receiver to perform
some of their own self-care activities. As time goes on, it can be
easy to over-help and invite greater dependence by the care
receiver. Others found, when they finally accepted outside help,
they experienced a strong sense of relief. Most caregivers wished
they had taken the help much sooner. In some cases, when 24-hour
care is no longer achievable, moving a loved one to an assisted
living facility or to a nursing home is the best solution.
Caregivers, as well as care
receivers, need a well-balanced diet and adequate hydration during
the day to stave off fatigue and vulnerability to illness. Try to
avoid large meals, high fat foods and the drinking of fluids before
bedtime. Taking vitamins, eating proteins, grains and fresh produce
and decreasing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can also promote
wellness. Caffeine is a mild stimulant and consuming it before
bedtime can affect sleep. It is also a diuretic and will result in
an increased need to urinate during the night. Alcohol is a
depressant by classification; however, it does cause a person to
sleep lighter and awaken more frequently.