When You’re Caring for a Loved One with Cancer

By Janet Campbell
Image via Pixabay

Whether you’re caring for a sick child or for an aging parent, being the caregiver of a cancer patient is both emotionally and physically fatiguing. And if you’re the main or sole caregiver, the toll is even greater as you may have to quit your job and deal with the added financial strain and stress. How can you take care of your own mental and physical health while caring for a loved one dealing with a cancer diagnosis? Here are some ways to get the help you need and prevent burnout:


Carve More Time for Yourself

Find ways to alleviate some of your stress and worries by hiring people for household tasks that consume too much of your time and energy while you care for your loved one. For example, lawn care maintenance is something you can easily “farm out” by paying for lawn mowing and other landscaping services. Look for reputable companies near you on Angi.com, and read reviews left by previous and existing customers to avoid unpleasant surprises.


Consider respite care so you can make time for your own appointments–be it to the doctor, get a manicure, or get coffee with a friend. Respite care can be in-home, by asking a trusted friend or relative to come for a few hours to take care of your loved one while you’re away. But if you don’t have such a support system, or if the level of care needed is too high for “laypeople”, you can hire a trained professional to come to your house.


Respite care is also available outside the home, and you can take your loved one to a daycare center or nursing home facility offering respite care so that you can run errands or run to the gym while knowing that your loved one is being looked after by professionals. Your community may also have caregiver support groups where you can find other members willing to pitch in and offer help when needed.


Take Care of Your Emotional Well-Being


When you care for a sick patient, your sleep patterns may be disrupted, leaving you feeling tired throughout the day and unable to fall asleep at night. So make sure to keep sleep a priority in your day-to-day life, either by trading nights with a friend or spouse or by hiring a trained aide to watch over your loved one while you sleep. Feeling well-rested will help you have a more positive outlook on life and make you a more effective caregiver.


The stress of keeping track of important medical information, administering medications, going to doctors’ appointments, and filling out a myriad of insurance forms can quickly become too much for a caregiver. Make sure you get the support you need and ask for help from friends and relatives that can take over some of the administrative tasks for you. Look for support groups in your area that may be able to answer some of your questions as well.


Find a healthy outlet that will help you recharge, and make sure you carve time for it in your busy schedule. Take a fitness class at your local gym, art classes, or music lessons. Sign up for a seminar you’re interested in, or enroll in a ceramics workshop at your local community college. Think of an activity you’d enjoy pursuing for a few hours a week, to give yourself a mental and emotional break from the stress of caregiving.


Caring for a cancer patient comes with a lot of responsibilities, and in order to be equipped for it, you need to prioritize your own well-being. Look for support groups in your area, reach out to friends and relatives that may be willing to help, and you’ll be able to enjoy a more peaceful time with your loved one.


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