If a family member or friend has been diagnosed with cancer, you may act as a caregiver for them as they navigate the cancer journey. Caregiving is an important role that may include a variety of supportive functions.
What is caregiving?
Caregiving can encompass a wide variety of responsibilities, ranging from coordinating medical visits to handling insurance to providing emotional support for the patient. The role of a caregiver may involve living with the patient, sharing responsibility with other caregivers, or supporting the patient from a distance. No matter how the role is defined, though, all caregivers are highly important in the patient’s cancer journey.
The role of a caregiver
Though a caregiver’s role is unique in every situation, there are responsibilities that almost all caregivers take on and tips that will help most caregivers. As a caregiver, your role will likely include gathering information on diagnosis treatments, providing physical and emotional care, and coordinating appointments and visits from loved ones. As you navigate this role, it is important to stay organized, keep the patient involved, be positive and proactive, and not forget to take care of yourself.
Self-care for caregivers
As a caregiver, taking care of yourself is vital to ensure you are in the best condition to care for the cancer patient. To care for your body, be sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and stay physically active. To care for yourself mentally and emotionally, dedicate time for yourself, know your limits, and consider seeing a counselor if necessary. Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself! This is a difficult role and there are a variety of resources and support
available to you.
Resources and support
There are many organizations dedicated to serving caregivers that may be helpful to you. The Caregiver Relief Fund offers resources and assistance for people caring for the ill, aged or disabled. The Family Caregiver Alliance provides up-to-date information on caregiving issues, focusing on quality of life. The Caregiver Action Network educates, supports, and advocates for more than 90 million American caregivers. 4th Angel arranges mentorship and support from former caregivers for current caregivers.