Taking Care of the Caregiver
As a caregiver, you're an integral part of the cancer treatment team. More and more, people with cancer are treated, at least in part, at home. Hospital stays are shorter. People with cancer are living longer and they want to receive care in the comfort of their home. This is all good news! This kind of care is often provided by caregivers who are family, friends, and community members.
You provide loving care, which often involves:
- Medication distribution
- Appointment schedules and transportation
- Nutritious meal preparation
- Health insurance and financial management
- Assistance with activities of daily life, like bathing and dressing
- Health decisions
- Emotional support
It’s essential you take care of yourself and seek support too.
Caregivers, despite their best intentions, can get worn down. Long-term neglect of your own health and needs leads to your own set of health problems.
Try a few of these caregiving tips:
- Accept support and offers to help from trusted friends and family.
- Exercise regularly. Choose activities you enjoy like a bike ride, a dance class, or a long walk.
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid over or under eating and cut out foods that have little nutrition.
- Engage in regular spiritual activity like meditation, religious activity, journaling, prayer, or being with nature.
- Find regular time for recreation with friends. Play cards, watch a movie, see an exhibit.
- Rest. Get a solid night’s sleep as often as you can. Create small time niches for peaceful activities.
- Find support. Explore respite care. Attend a support group for caregivers. Talk to a mental health professional.
- Discuss options with your employer. Ask about flexible work hours or your Family Medical Leave Act.
- Simplify. Keep focused on your loved one’s and your own physical and mental health. Minimize or avoid activities that don’t support them.