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Caregivers Essentials

 


 

 Caregivers are the people; a parent, a husband, a family member, a boyfriend or girlfriend that assists with the day to day support of any patient. These are the people that take each patient to appointments, takes them shopping, provides regular meals, picks up prescriptions, cleans the house or apartment, takes the kids to daycare, answers the phone, provides updates to family and friends, the list of needs is never ending.
                                                                    

When a Caregiver is dealing with their loved ones hurting from cancer, they hurt as well. In fact, research has shown that Caregivers experience symptoms such as psychological distress, fatigue and sleep disturbance just as much as and sometimes more than patients.
Caregivers responding for prolonged periods of time may result in Compassion Fatigue, a state of emotional numbness and may not be able to respond effectively to patient's needs.

It is important for Caregivers to be aware of their own suffering and needs. Self compassion leads to better self care and can lead to better care for the patient. Consider joining a support group, meditation or other self-care options.
It is OK to Ask Questions, to get the answers you need.   

What each caregiver needs is support.  Sometimes physical support, however they also need regular doses of emotional support. A short phone call or email, a quick stop by the house, a simple card in the mail that says "thinking about you" and "Love You" helps anyone’s emotional state.                                                                       
Each caregiver needs to accept help when offered and when needed; ask for help. IT'S OK
    

If you are a primary caregiver, your physical and mental health is critical. You are spending a lot of time in direct contact with your loved one that has a severely lowered immune system especially during Chemo treatments. Someone that may be experiencing deep bouts of depression.
You have to be completely healthy at all times. If you are sick, stay away from the patient... Let someone else step in and assist until you are better. IT'S OK - You are not doing anything wrong to let others help when needed.
 
                                                     (see Cancer and Depression tab for more information)

Be Prepared
Throughout your patient's fight, they will be bombarded with information, terms, and questions that will have to be answered.
If they have been recently been diagnosed, they will be going through series of tests so that the oncology professionals can determine their treatment plan.
This process may seem like it is taking forever as they are being, poked, prodded, scanned and then waiting for the results, then waiting for the next appointment, then waiting for treatment, then more tests........ at a time when everyone may be having a tough time focusing and may be tired, however this process is necessary so their oncology team can plan the best treatment.

One thing that will help, before every visit with the doctors, write down any questions you have before the appointment;
  • What should they be doing between treatments?
  • What can I do to assist her in this fight?
  • What class or seminars are available to assist me as a caregiver to understand her needs and be more effective?
Then during the appointment, take notes.       

            • Take Notes of what is discussed, the key points, and any directions   
            • The only wrong question is the one not asked!
  
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