4 Tips for Caregivers of Cancer Patients

Updated on June 4, 2014

20101208_CCG026I woke this morning still tired. Exhausted really. (Funny, that’s how I woke up yesterday, too.) I woke up about every 35 minutes making sure I hadn’t missed my alarm or a call from the hospital. I knew today would be a busy day as Grandpa started his next round of chemotherapy and Grandma had her own appointment with a doctor. Anticipation and nervousness never let me fully fall asleep…

Most family caregivers will recognize that journal excerpt as if it’s their own writing. The selection from Cat Koehler’s blog describes the exhaustion, anger and nervousness caregivers can be overwhelmed with when helping a loved one navigate through illness. 

There are ways your patients’ families can find relief and time to care for themselves when caring for a loved one with cancer: 

1. Invite others in.
As the primary caregiver, no one knows their loved one’s situation as intimately as they do. They may find it hard to break away or trust others to take their place, even in the simplest of tasks, but this is exactly why they should. Inviting a friend or family member to pitch in can be a breath of fresh air for all involved, and it gives them a much-needed break.

2. Delegate transportation.
Suggest allowing a friend or family member to serve as taxi on appointment days. Between treatments, doctor visits and follow-ups, a cancer patient’s calendar can be grueling to maintain alongside caregiver’s other day-to-day responsibilities. Delegating their loved one’s transportation to and from appointments to a trusted third party may bring some relief to their strained schedule. If family and friends are not available, consider helping contact their local Home Instead Senior Care franchise office to inquire about transportation services as a convenient alternative.

3. Take a coffee break.
Or, take a walk, do some yoga, or just do a little bit of nothing at all. No matter how busy and stress-filled the days get, taking quiet moments for yourself is essential to your well-being. As a caregiver, what is essential to their well-being is essential to their loved one’s well-being. Be intentional about carving out a few minutes several times a day to do something that refreshes you, however simple that something might be.

4. Remember.
The work you and your patients’ families are doing is hard work, but it is also good work. Yes, caring for a cancer patient can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining, but your efforts are vitally important. You are making a real, tangible difference in the life of someone you love. Don’t give up, but do take care of yourself.

For more tips and information, visit CaregiverStress.com.

CAREGivers from Home Instead Senior Care can help patients and their families transition back to home and reduce readmissions by providing companionship, light housekeeping, transportation, personal care and more. For more information about Home Instead Senior Care visit www.homeinstead.com/greaterpittsburgh or call 1-866-996-1087.

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