Cancer Caregiver Support
Are you a CDPAP caregiver taking care of a cancer patient? If so, you face challenges that other caregivers don’t. From the emotional toll to caregiving responsibilities, you need to be prepared for the job.
First, find out what your role as a cancer caregiver entails. Then, go over the ups and downs of caring for a cancer patient and find out how to take care of yourself during this time.
Role as a Cancer Patient Caregiver
You can expect to assist with many of the activities of daily living when caring for a cancer patient. Also, you’ll need to handle some other tasks as well. Let’s take a closer look, starting with feeding the patient.
Feed the Patient
Feeding the patient is one of the most important duties you’ll perform. It’s not unusual for cancer patients to lose their appetites during treatment. However, they need ample nutrients to power their body so they can fight back.
You can help by providing small, frequent meals. Also, limit fluids during meals so your loved one will get enough nutrients through food.
Finally, be mindful of the smells that make your loved one ill. You’ll want to avoid cooking foods that can cause nausea and vomiting.
Dress the Patient
You might need to help dress the patient while serving as a caregiver. However, you don’t want to take over unless your loved one needs help. Thus, tell your family member that you’re available and can help if needed.
This can be hard to do since it’s challenging to watch someone struggle. However, you don’t want to step over any boundaries, so only help if your loved one simply cannot do it.
Bathe the Patient
Proper hygiene is needed to prevent infections. At first, your loved one will likely be able to handle bathing duties. However, weakness caused by the disease or treatment can turn this into an impossible task. When that happens, you’ll need to step in and start bathing the patient.
Arranging schedules is also a critical component when caring for a cancer patient. Your loved one will have numerous appointments, so you need to stay on top of everything. Because the appointments are so plentiful, you might want to use a mobile app to keep up.
Deal With Insurance
As a cancer caregiver, you’ll need to set aside some time to deal with the insurance company or companies. You might need to contact the company to find out what services and treatments are covered and which providers your loved one can use. Also, you’ll need to reach out if a claim is denied.
First, familiarize yourself with your loved one’s insurance policies, including government health plans. Then you’ll know which company to contact for each situation.
Your loved one will need rides to treatment and other appointments. Thus, you need to have a dependable vehicle to go to and from appointments and other places.
Cleaning is normally on the caregiver’s to-do list. However, it’s even more important when caring for a cancer patient. Cancer treatments weaken the immune system, so your loved one is more susceptible to infections. Thus, you need to clean all surfaces to remove bacteria and viruses.
While you need to clean the entire home, pay special attention to the:
As you complete these duties, you’ll experience various ups and downs. Identifying the ups and downs of caregiving can help you manage your emotions.
Ups and Downs of Being a Caregiver for a Cancer Patient
It’s not unusual to experience ups and downs throughout the day. It can be a bit of a rollercoaster, but by knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to ride the highs and lows.
When you care for a person with cancer, you are there for your loved one day after day. You get to help someone who is at his or her most vulnerable, and that can make you closer than ever. During difficult moments, think about how rewarding the experience is. You’re providing your loved one with the opportunity to stay home while recovering, and you’re the support system.
Enrichment and Satisfaction
Studies have shown that caring for a loved one with cancer can create a sense of personal growth, enrichment, and satisfaction. This is likely partially due to the enhanced relationship between the cancer patient and the caregiver.
According to researchers, you’re more likely to have this positive experience if you meet two criteria. First, engage in daily enrichment events, such as journaling.
Second, you need to have high self-efficacy. That means you know that you can handle situations without getting overwhelmed.
Meet New People
You can also meet new people when serving as a caregiver. You’ll have the opportunity to meet the healthcare team, other cancer patients, and your loved one’s friends. It’s amazing how close you can get to people while caring for a loved one with cancer.
It’s normal to experience frustration when working as a caregiver. You might be frustrated with:
· The disease
Also, you can feel frustrated when your loved one cannot do the things he or she used to accomplish with ease. It’s important to manage your frustration so you don’t take it out on the patient.
Unfortunately, caring for a loved one who has cancer is a painful experience. It’s hard to watch a person you love decline and struggle through cancer treatments. Fortunately, you can offset some of the pain you feel by providing care. Through caregiving, you can get back some of the control that cancer has taken.
With all the ups and downs, it’s important that you take care of yourself when caring for someone with cancer.
How to Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for the patient. It’s hard to take care of someone else while ignoring your needs, so this will benefit you and the patient. First, you need to know your boundaries.
Know Your Boundaries
You don’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, it would be a bad idea. You’ll end up emotionally and physically burned out if you try to do everything, so you need to set boundaries.
For example, assess your physical limitations to know if you can or cannot fulfill all the patient’s needs. Can you lift them up if necessary? If you cannot do something, have someone else step in.
You can also set boundaries regarding your time. For instance, if you cannot work past 9 p.m., set that boundary and then have someone fill in for you.
Support From Family
Your family can provide emotional support while you’re caring for a loved one. Lean on them when you need to do so. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them what you need from them. People are willing to step up when they know what’s expected.
Eat a healthy diet full of:
· Whole grains
It should be low in saturated fats and sugar as well.
A healthy diet will give you the energy and resilience you need to provide care and stay well yourself.
You can boost your endorphins and manage your moods through exercise. Also, exercising will reduce your stress levels. At a minimum, go for a walk five days a week. If possible, add strength training in as well.
If you are religious or spiritual, you can seek spiritual support. Talk to a trusted member of your spiritual community and seek guidance.
You need to step away and have fun from time to time. Be sure to block out some social time in your calendar. Then, you can go out with friends to unwind. By balancing social time with your caregiving schedule, it’ll be much easier to deal with the tasks you face.
Mental Health Support From a Professional
If you feel anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, seek support from a trained mental health professional. You can go to counseling or see a psychiatrist for medicine if needed.
Ask Others to Help
Serving as a caregiver can be a lonely job. However, you can avoid that loneliness by asking others for help. Have family meetings where you go over the weekly tasks and ask for help as needed. Keep a schedule so you’ll know who is helping on which days.
Find a Local Support Group
There are numerous support groups to help cancer patients and caregivers. You can speak to your doctor or the American Cancer Society to find support groups in your area. If you prefer to meet online, you can join the Cancer Survivors Network. The American Cancer Society created the network to help cancer patients and caregivers get the support they need.
Write in a Journal
Keeping a journal is a must for cancer caregivers. Journaling will give you the chance to process the emotions you feel. Try to write for at least five minutes each day.
Look at the Positives
It’s easy to get bogged down with negative emotions when caring for a loved one. However, you can change your mindset by looking at the positives. The positives might include:
· Building a closer relationship
· Allowing your loved one to remain at home
· Health improvements after cancer treatments
Remember You Aren’t Alone
It might feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. However, you can get help from family, friends, support groups, and medical professionals. Take care of yourself so you can care for the cancer patient. Then, you can focus on positives, such as growing closer to your loved one.