Caregiver Sleep Deprivation

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Caregiver Sleep Deprivation

Nurse-led study finds dementia caregivers chronically short on sleep

By Working Nurse
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Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be taxing, and one frequent consequence is a lack of sleep. A new study suggests that the sleep deficit for dementia caregivers may be even more severe than previously reported.

Nurse-Led Research

In California alone, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that about 1.6 million people — two-thirds of them women — are unpaid caregivers for parents or other loved ones with some form of dementia.  Taking care of someone with dementia is often a 24-hour job, which makes it harder for those caregivers to take care of themselves.

A new nurse-led study, published in the journal Perspectives in Psychiatric Care in July, used actigraphy watches and sleep diaries to track how much sleep Alzheimer’s caregivers usually get. The answer was, “Not much.” Almost 92 percent of participants got six hours or less of sleep a night and had poor-quality sleep to boot. 

Perhaps the most striking observation was that caregivers often underestimate their own sleep deficit. While most people caring for dementia sufferers have reported poorer sleep (both in this study and in previous research), caregivers’ self-reports were actually more optimistic than the actigraphy watches revealed.

A Billion-Dollar Problem

Lead author Yu-Ping Chang, RN, Ph.D., FGSA, an associate professor and associate dean for research and scholarship at University at Buffalo School of Nursing, says, “Understanding how well caregivers are sleeping and the variables that affect them is an important first step toward the development of tailored and effective treatment.” 

This is important because stress and poor sleep tend to erode the physical and mental health of caregivers, which results in higher healthcare costs. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that in 2017, the added healthcare costs for unpaid caregivers in California amounted to almost $1.1 billion.   

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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