What’s funny about caregiver fatigue? Absolutely NOTHING! Having a sense of humor can be an effective coping tool, as demonstrated in this hilarious video, but it can’t compensate for a chronic lack of sleep.
If your care receiver isn’t sleeping at night, chances are good that you aren’t sleeping either. You may be intimately familiar with caregiver fatigue and that horrible feeling of waking up each morning feeling even more exhausted than when you went to bed. If you are starting each day wondering how you will find the physical, mental, and emotional energy to get through the day, it will be critically important for you to figure out how you can get some rest.
Here are just a few reasons why it’s important to figure out how you can get enough sleep:
- When we don’t get enough sleep our cognitive processes slow down. We have difficulty paying attention, problem-solving, and retaining memories. We are more prone to making mistakes and having accidents.
- Chronic sleep loss can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and diabetes.
- People who get less than six hours of sleep a night are more likely to experience depression or anxiety. They are also more likely to become obese than people who sleep seven to nine hours.*
Throughout our caregiving journey, we learn to develop coping strategies that help us deal with the physical and emotional stress of caring for others.
The cartoon is based on a plan a dear elderly woman shared with me when I spoke at a conference for people who were caring for loved ones with Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease. In the morning, I had talked about how fatigue contributes to caregiver anger, and I stressed the importance of getting enough rest.
At lunch, I sat with a group of courageous women who were all caring for their husbands. Claudia, an older woman with twinkling eyes and a wicked sense of humor, said she had a plan that would provide her with free long-term care so she could finally get some rest.
Claudia’s plan is really funny, and she generously gave me permission to turn it into the cartoon, ‘Claudia Robs a Bank.” The video never fails to generate applause and laughter when I play it at caregiving conferences. However, I believe with all my heart that Claudia and other people like her do sometimes think about doing something desperate to get a little respite and relief from the round-the-clock responsibility of caring for a spouse who has lost the ability to care for himself.
If Claudia’s plan sounds reasonable to you, please find a way to get some respite.
Google: Area Agency on Aging: https://www.n4a.org Type in your zip code, city, and state to find support and resources in your local area.
For more online information on managing caregiver fatigue, check out the 3F’s of Flipping Out caregiver videos on my website.
*Source: Web MD 10 Surprising Effects of Lack of Sleep