/ Sept-Oct 2006 / Fighting Caregiver Fatigue
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Fighting Caregiver Fatigue
By Kristine Dwyer, Staff
(Page 3 of 3)
Fortunately, there are many
things that can help to decrease weariness and promote a good
Regular exercise can have a
positive effect on improving sleeping habits as well as
decreasing stress, depression and anxiety.
Try to maintain a daily
routine for naps and sleep so
that the body can adjust to a
Listen to positive sounds to
promote relaxation before sleep. Music or nature
sounds, such as waves, can be soothing to the soul.
Avoid watching stimulating television shows right before
bed as this may bring alarming news that unsettles
our mood and disrupts our ability to rest
Meditation, prayer, and deep
breathing exercises are also options to use for
calming our minds and bodies so that we can sleep. These
can also be done if one awakens during the night.
Try drinking warm milk, taking
a relaxing bath, reading something pleasant and
perhaps journal some thoughts prior to bedtime.
If insomnia is prevalent,
discuss medication options with a physician.
Caregivers must take time for
themselves and focus on their own needs (both physical and
emotional) to avoid depleting their strength and energy. Keeping a
daily log of sleeping habits can be a “wake up call” to caregivers
and a helpful tool for the doctor to determine recommended
solutions. Record the quality of sleep as well as the frequency.
Record also the foods eaten and the use of medication, caffeine and
alcohol. Note the activities engaged in during the day as well as
the emotions. After several weeks, trends may appear that offer
great insight into the toll of caregiving and the decisions that
need to be made to decrease fatigue and increase energy.
After years of sleep
deprivation, fatigue can become a chronic state. The body’s
biological clocks are disrupted and symptoms of aging seem to
accelerate. One adult daughter, who cared for her mother daily for
three years, felt she herself had aged ten years and gained over 50
pounds. Three months after her mother was able to move to an
assisted living facility, the daughter appeared physically
transformed and actually looked younger than before she became a
caregiver. She attributed it to finally being able to sleep normally
and to focus on her own daily care needs now that her mother’s needs
were being met by a caring staff.
It can clearly be seen that
fatigue and sleep deprivation strongly impact the caregiver’s
ability to provide the best possible care to their loved one. Family
caregivers are at risk and must open their eyes to their own needs
and solutions that may be available to them. Asking for help is a
sign of strength, not weakness! When someone else takes over the
caregiving responsibilities, even for a short time, caregivers can
step back, focus on themselves, rest and get recharged.