michelesanchez Asked February 2011

I have been having a problem with extreme fatigue when I leave my Mom's house. On my way home I almost fall asleep at the wheel and when I get home I have to go to sleep right away and sleep for hours. What can I do?

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When I get home I have to go to sleep right away and sleep for hours. I dont understand why this is happening or what to do about it. I cannot quit helping her so thats not the answer. I do not know how to fix this problem. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I am afraid I am going to get into a car accident! yesterday I actually got sleepy on my way to her house as well as getting really bad on the way home.....help?

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bobO Mar 2011
Michele,
First, you are exhausted. It is very overwhelming. Sleeping can be a sign of depression. Those of us dealing with difficulties with aging parents often fall into depression. It's part of the grief at loosing them when still alive. Find a good Psychologist who specializes in Geriatrics. Mine has helped me immensely! If not a Geriatric specialist, go to a generalist. I faced the same dilemma and have only made it through with support. It's not you! It's the situation.
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mimosalane Feb 2011
You might ask your physician about B-12 shots. My 86 yr old mom gets them regularly, and I get them occassionally. They also have sublingual (under the tongue) over-the-counter B12 vitamins for better absorbtion.
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plenora Feb 2011
Is it possible to open a window in your grans room a little? Stale air will make you tired . Stress takes a lot out of a person too. First get checked by your doctor and then try other methods for fresh air and stimulants. I find an hour in early morning of good exercise gives me more energy to face the day. The day I don't exercise leaves me feeling like a slug all day. I have been caring for my mother for 8 years and besides an early morning walk, coffee and tea, fresh air coming in the house, I have something to fill the time that I enjoy and look forward to doing. I hope these ideas help you in your struggle.
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elenor Feb 2011
sleep at her house
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I agree with Lilliput and Cmagnum! You do need to take care of yourself or you're no good to anyone else if you don't. I've crashed a few times in the year and half I have been solely responsible for caring for both my Mom and Dad. The errands are endless and the good times are far and few in between.
But what I also want to suggest that you may be suffering some type of mild depression yourself. See your doctor and let them know how you feel. It's OK to send some time on yourself.

Peace out,

-SS
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greatat61 Feb 2011
There are numerous reasons you could be sleepy, mainly not getting enough good rest or a medical issue, or boredom. I also was sleepy on the way to and from my elderly parents and yawn a lot around them and my Sister said the same thing.happens to her. I believe that mine was caused by wanting to get away or hide from the pain I felt seeing them so frail and ill. If I go to sleep, I won't have to deal with it and when I wake up, I feel better because I generally cry first and that releases a lot of hurt and stress. Please be careful driving! Try pulling over for a few minutes. Talking to a counselor may also help you understand and you may want to see your Doctor.
Can someone ride with you? How long is the ride?
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Nataly1 Feb 2011
If it only happens when you visit have you checked for carbon monoxide in her home or your ca? Years ago while I was driving I would get drowsy... Turns out my car had a gas leak.
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igloo572 Feb 2011
Alot of this is probably emotional fatigue too.

When I moved my mom from her home of 50+ years to IL and we would stay at the house, there was alot of odors associated with everything at the house. Not nasty but more like old rancid oil or wet animal. Our clothes, luggage would smell of the house when we left - we would all get headaches & have unusual fatigue & our son would get ecezma after the 3rd day.

Turns out there was a gas leak at stove. So CO2 check is a very good idea. Also I just didn't realize that there were years and years of old dead skin cells in the house as it was rarely opened up - so the odor was really embedded in the house especially in anything fabric. I pulled out all the wall-to-wall and got rid of all the old drapes, rugs, linens and only kept those that could be hot water washed. Febrezed & renuzit on every visit in and left 3 windows slightly open. Took about a year for the smell to go away. No more headaches or skin irritations since.

Did the same for her clothes and linens at her IL.

As an fyi, the smell of grapefruit is processed by our brains
as "young", "fresh". So look for that scent to use if there's
an old lady smell lingering from your visits.

When you're driving you might want to have hard candy like Jolly rancher sour apple to keep yourself busy, maybe a book on tape, or get a tin or wasabi peas for a snack - those will perk/zing anyone up.

If everyone's suggestions don't seem to make a difference, then perhaps you should get a check up as you could have a thyroid or other metabolic condition. Good luck
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cmagnum Feb 2011
Such extreme fatigue sounds more like burnout that could mean lights out for yourself one night behind the wheel. How many hours a night do you sleep?

Are you eating healthy food or junk food all of the time?

Do you wake up refreshed in the morning or half asleep still?

Do you have to be the person who does all of the helping for your mother?

What are you doing to take care of you?

Also, your tiredness could be depression and you might be masking it by staying busy with everything. It might be a good idea to see a therapist about all of this stress because about all a doctor can do is give you a pill which might in fact help until you can find some ways to get some balance back into your life.
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Fortress Feb 2011
Hello. I have the same problem. I travel 100 miles each way to visit my father every two weeks or more. While I am with him at the nursing home I try to be very positive upbeat etc... and I usually stay 4 - 5 hours. Somehow I feel fine while i am there but as soon as I hit my car it is like I relax and after about 10 minutes I could fall to sleep.
So I always make it a point to stop and get a coffee and a small treat to eat on the way home.
I also have a book player and I will try to play an interesting book on the way home.
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