When a loved one has cancer, it’s only natural to want to put everything aside and help him or her navigate the difficult situations they may face on a day-to-day basis. But taking on the role of a caregiver can come with its share of challenges. Treatment for most cancers and the side effects that result can be particularly difficult for both the patients themselves and their loved ones, and feeling overwhelmed at times is normal.
For caregivers, knowing and accepting their personal limits, and realizing that reaching those limits does not equal failure, is important. Having a support system is part of taking care of your loved one, as well as yourself. If you are involved in helping your loved one on a daily basis, decide which caregiving tasks you're able and willing to do yourself, and which ones you would like to have help with. An agency such as ours can then help with these duties.
Here are some tips to help set yourself up for success as a caregiver:
Build your support system. Talk to friends, family members, members of your faith community, neighbors, coworkers, etc. and find out who you can go to when you need assistance with your loved one's care. Often people are happy to help; they just need to be asked.
Research respite care services near your loved one's home. Respite care services, like those provided by Aaging Better In-Home Care, provide you with an experienced caregiver who can spend time with and care for your loved one while you run errands or take some personal time away. He or she can help with meals, bathing, transportation to and from treatments, or other daily routines as necessary.
When feeling worried or overwhelmed, talk to a mental health professional or join a support group. Caregivers often feel isolated or lonely. Speaking with a counselor or social worker can provide some relief from worries. Also, joining a caregiver support group can help you connect with others who are experiencing similar situations and provide a safe place to express your feelings and receive support.
Know your rights. If you've worked for a company for at least a year that employs 50 or more workers, you are probably allowed unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide care for your loved one. Ask your company’s human resources department for help.
Becoming a caregiver to a loved one with cancer can be a fulfilling and selfless act, but it's equally important to also take care of yourself in the process. Sometimes reaching out to an agency such as ours to provide a caregiver for your loved one while you take a break (respite care), enables both you and your loved one the time to recharge mentally or physically. Our fully trained caregivers understand the unique challenges that cancer patients and their caregivers face. Working with the family one-on-one to develop strategies for meeting the cancer patient's daily challenges often leads to better coping outcomes with whatever emotional or practical challenges each of you may be going through. Contact us at 866-464-2344 to learn more about our in-home care services.