What is caregiver fatigue?
What can I do about my fatigue?
When should I talk to my doctor about my fatigue?



What is caregiver fatigue?

Fatigue is an overwhelming sense of tiredness. If you are fatigued, you may have little energy to do the things you normally do—even if you are getting enough sleep. You may feel tired all the time, weak, worn-out, slow, or heavy. You may also feel sad, irritable, and frustrated. Fatigue can affect your quality of life, mood, relationships, and performance.

Caregivers are at risk of fatigue from emotional stress, overload, poor sleep, poor nutrition, and not enough exercise.

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What can I do about my fatigue?

Here are some tips:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Get help with caregiving and household chores so you can take breaks.
  • Nap no more than 30-45 minutes in the late morning or early afternoon.
  • Stay active during the day. Get at least 15 minutes of exercise every day.
  • Try not to overload your daily to-do list.
  • Make time for things you enjoy.
  • Eat well. Have healthy snacks around, like a bowl of fruit, vegetables, or cheese. Avoid fatty and fried foods especially at bedtime.
  • Drink water or beverages without caffeine to keep hydrated.
  • Avoid caffeine after 3pm, including coffee, colas, black teas, and chocolate.
  • Try relaxation exercises or meditation.
  • Join a support group. Support groups can provide suggestions and reassurance in a safe environment.
  • Talk to others about your fatigue.

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When should I talk to my doctor about my fatigue?

Talk to your doctor if you are:

  • Unable to get out of bed for 24 hours
  • Having a hard time focusing while talking, reading, watching TV, etc.
  • Unable to do your usual daily activities
  • Have severe chills or sweats
  • Have a temperature above 100.9 F (38.3 C) or a temperature higher than 100.4 F (38.0 C) that lasts for more than an hour
  • Are short of breath

Also let your doctor know:

  • When your fatigue started
  • If it’s gotten worse
  • What helps or makes it worse
  • How it affects your activities

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Next learn about...

Getting help with caregiving
Talking with family & friends
Coping with sleep problems

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This website was created to provide information, education, and support that will help cancer caregivers care for themselves and their family members. It is not meant as medical advice. Please check with your physician for any advice about your health.