Anybody who has ever been diagnosed with Cancer understands the huge shock that hits when they first find out. In more serious cases of cancer, especially if it is at a quite advanced stage, the person may need a caregiver to provide additional support. Here are five tips for cancer caregivers.
1. The caregiver should learn as much about the particular type and severity of the cancer that their charge has been diagnosed with. It makes it a little easier to help somebody if they know what they’re going through, even if the caregiver hasn’t actually experienced it.
2. The caregiver should have a frank discussion with the patient about their needs. The needs could be as basic as having company, in case that assistance is required. On the other hand, the patient may be very weak and could need help to shower and get dressed. They may need help with preparing meals.
Regardless of how well or how little the caregiver knows the patient, talking candidly about the problems arising from the cancer is a vital part of the whole caregiving process. The caregiver may drive the patient to and from hospitals and doctor’s appointments, and might even go into the appointments to learn more. Knowledge is power.
3. A new routine will be important. The cancer may have caused major changes in lifestyle and the new “life” may then become the norm. The patient may have difficulty accepting this at first, especially if he/she was fiercely independent and/or had a senior role at work prior to all of this happening. The patient may ask for help with finances, daily chores, shopping, cleaning and many other things.
The caregiver can also be a family member living in the same house, for example. If this is the case, it makes the things a lot easier. The caregiver may be a friend or even a stranger, a professional brought in to help.
4. The caregiver shouldn’t let the patient’s cancer and that role become overwhelming, as it may very well do. Help should be sought when needed. If the caregiving is 24/7, respite must be found because the caregiver will certainly need some down time.
Cancer can cause the patient’s health to deteriorate rapidly, and the caregiver must be prepared to cope with this, or to seek help if he/she finds it difficult to cope alone. Watching somebody wither away can be mentally and emotionally draining.
5. If help is offered, the caregiver should accept it, in whatever form it comes. It may come from a community support group, the local council, other family members, friends of the patient and other sources. All offers of help are positive. If somebody can offer respite, the caregiver should have a holiday, to completely escape from the normal stress and commitment of providing care.
While cancer is a very serious disease, nobody in the position of caring for another should ever feel they have to go it alone. Help is always available, so don’t hesitate to request it.