While there’s often no formal definition of caregiving support it can be an important part of caregiving.
It can take many forms and is as individual as your situation.
When Mary’s mother required 24/7 care, she hoped to keep her mother at home.
Initially Mary provided all the night care herself.
It became too much when she found herself only napping every night. She would catch snatches of sleep while listening and watching on a video baby monitor for her mother. So her sleep was light at best.
And during the day she dragged herself around, accomplishing little or nothing.
When the sleep deprivation became noticeable Mary’s family became alarmed.
They insisted she get some help, hiring nurse’s aides to stay at night so Mary could get some much-needed sleep.
Do you know . . .?
Sleep deprivation affects many organs, not just the brain.
Often people feel less alert and can’t think clearly when they don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of accidents. And you may also feel short-tempered when deprived of enough restful sleep.
Research has shown that sleep deprivation can also cause weight gain. Caregivers often have trouble eating healthy, and don’t need another factor in gaining weight easily.
Another side effect of not getting enough sleep is a decrease in the immune system’s function. When you’re caregiving your responsibilities often mean you don’t have time to get sick.
Or maybe you’re concerned that in getting sick you’ll pass your infection on to the one you’re giving care to—who may have trouble fighting any infection. Getting enough rest helps your immune system work optimally fighting infections and even cancers.
Another organ that can be affected is the heart. Research shows that sleep deprivation can increase blood pressure. Studies show compared to non-caregivers, caregivers have increased risks of heart disease, stroke and even death.
What are some ways caregiving support can relieve sleep deprivation and caregiver stress?
- Power Naps. Power naps are naps lasting about 20 minutes usually in the afternoon. Research shows they can increase your alertness, reduce stress and increase the function of your brain. It’s important to stay alert and think clearly when caregiving. And decreasing caregiver stress can increase your health and quality of life.
- Relief caregivers so you can get sleep at night at least part of the week. Maybe you have another caregiver come in to relieve you at night. Maybe you can sleep during the day and have another caregiver then.
Or maybe you can arrange to get away for a weekend.
Perhaps your care recipient’s insurance will pay for respite care. Respite care gives family caregivers short breaks from caregiving. There are often options available to tailor to your individual needs.
Don’t have any one to relieve you? Well there are agencies that will help you find qualified caregiving support.
- Stress relief. Stress relief is very important. If you’re not careful, caregiver stress can quickly accelerate out of control. And stress also causes a decrease in alertness and thinking, impairs your immune system and can be associated with increased risks of diseases.
And of these three, stress relief may be the most difficult to address.
Often caregiver stress is a chronic stress that never completely leaves. Even when you are well-rested and getting caregiving support, as the primary caregiver you may still carry quite a heavy burden.
Caregiver stress can quickly take over your life without you knowing it. You may be exhausted and feel you’re run ragged. With little or no time to yourself to rejuvenate the stress and exhaustion just becomes a bigger and bigger problem.
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Keep knitting to your heart’s delight — or someone else’s,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, CaregivingWithPurpose.com and TheKnittingYarn.com
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. This site does not advocate medical or other health-related self-care, and encourages you to obtain advice from your own personal physician or other health care provider.
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