CAREGIVER FATIGUEPosted: January 16, 2019, 9:58AM
Today's Caregiver has an interesting article entitled "Fighting Caregiver Fatigue" which talks about....caregiver fatigue! This is a very real, very impactful (mentally, physically and spiritually) condition that affects caregivers. This physical and/or mental exhaustion takes a toll on caregivers whether they are providing care 24 hours a day or if they are long distance caregivers.
Caregivers lose sleep due to the demands of caregiving, due to the mental strain of worrying about what's next, due to the juggling of job, family and caregiving. Caregivers keep going on 'reserve' because they feel they have to.
Sleep is vital for our well-being. When we're providing care we may lose sleep because our care receiver is up and moving. We may 'sleep with one eye open'. But - are we resting? Our thoughts may be consuming us so we can't get to sleep or we can't go back to sleep when we awaken. Without adequate rest, the brain's ability to access memory, control speech, and resolve problems is greatly hampered.
Fatique puts the caregiver at risk. It contributes to an increased vulnerability to illness and can affect emotional as well as physical health. We can become anxious, angry, irritable. Our concentration and task performance can be adversely affected. Our judgment can become impaired and our job performance can be affected. We can also see changes in appetite, frequent infections, addiction issues, problems with focusing, and increased sensitivity to pain. Lack of sleep can also interfere with the body's ability to regualte insulin and the metabolism of sugar.
So what can you do?
Recognize that fatigue is present and you need to do something.
- Seek solutions to alleviate fatigue and sleep loss.
- Carry out the solutions with the help of family, friends or a paid service.
- You may want to ask family and/or friends to spend the night once or twice a week to allow time for you to have uninterrupted sleep. If this isn't an option, consider hiring an agency for overnight coverage so you can rest.
Pay attention to your body. A well-balanced diet and staying hydrated go a long way toward maintaining your health. Watch sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake. Regular exercise can also contribute to a good night's sleep.
Meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, aromatherapy, massage, and other mindfulness practices can also calm our minds and bodies so we can sleep.
It is true - you do have to pay attention to your health and well-being and take care of yourself as a caregiver. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness!