Looking after someone with fatigue

If you’re caring for someone with fatigue, there are a number of simple things that you can do to help:

  • Acknowledge that fatigue is a difficult problem to deal with. This can be reassuring for your friend or relative.
  • Understand the different ways of dealing with fatigue. Reading the information in this section should help.
  • Encourage your relative or friend to use a fatigue diary, or help them to fill it in. Write down how fatigue affects their life, as well as how it affects yours.
  • Use the fatigue diary to find out what times the person you care for has more energy to do things, such as shopping or having visitors around. Plan to make the most of these times.
  • Try reducing fatigue by helping your relative or friend make simple improvements to their sleep, diet and exercise habits.

You can go with your relative or friend on their visits to hospital and take the fatigue diary with you. Discuss the following points with the doctors and nurses:

  • How the fatigue is affecting both of you.
  • What could be causing the fatigue.
  • What techniques you’ve tried to reduce fatigue and what has or hasn’t been helpful.
  • Other ways the doctors may be able to treat the fatigue.

Caring for another person can be exhausting. You may also become tired if you have lots to worry about. It’s important that you also look after yourself and avoid getting too tired.

This can be difficult when you have a lot to do and you don’t want to let your relative or friend down.

You may need to involve other people or organisations to help with the caring, especially if you also have an illness that makes you feel tired.

We have more detailed information to help you if you're caring for someone with cancer.

Back to Tiredness (fatigue)

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is feeling very tired most, or all, of the time. It is a very common problem for people with cancer.

What causes fatigue?

The cause of cancer-related-fatigue (CRF) is not fully understood. There are thought to be many reasons for it.

Tips for a better night's sleep

Good-quality sleep is very important when you are tired. There are things you can do to help improve the quality of your sleep.

Managing your fatigue

Making some simple changes to your diet and exercise routine and learning how to relax may help you to manage symptoms of fatigue.

Support if you have fatigue

There is support available if you have fatigue. You might find it helps to talk to a counsellor or join a support group.