Caregivers may be spouses, partners, family members, or close friends who give the person with cancer physical and emotional care. Giving care can mean helping with daily needs. This can include making meals, arranging and transporting to doctor visits, and helping with bathing and dressing. It can also mean helping your loved one to cope with feelings.
As a caregiver, you may be glad to put the well-being of the person with cancer above your own well-being. When giving care, it is normal to put your own feelings and needs aside, but you need to take care of yourself too. If you don’t, you may not be able to care for others.
There are many causes of stress in cancer caregivers. Everyone has emotional ups and downs, but early attention to symptoms of depression can make a big difference in how the caregiver feels about their role and how well they can do the things they need to do. There are ways to help reduce stress which may help prevent serious depression.
Tips for a strong patient and caregiver team:
- Support one another, even though only one person is ill.
- Communicate openly.
- Share worries and concerns.
- Maintain an active lifestyle as much as possible.
- Continue enjoyable activities.
- Ask questions to understand and manage symptoms.
- Help one another cope.
The FOCUS Support Program is an Ann Arbor area support group held at the Cancer Support Community. It is a free six-week program for cancer patients and caregivers to lean about how to live through and beyond cancer. The program is unique in that it addresses caregiver concerns and how patients and loved ones can work as a team to manage and cope with the illness. If you are interested in participating, contact the Cancer Support Community at 734-975-2500.
If you were/are a caregiver, what worked for you? Please feel free to leave a comment.