When someone you love has cancer, it’s natural to want to drop everything and help that person, but taking on the role of a caregiver is not without challenges. Treatment for cancer and the side effects that result can be particularly difficult for both the patients themselves and their loved ones, and feeling overwhelmed at times is normal.
As a caregiver, realize that it’s important to know and accept your own limits, and that reaching your limit does not mean that you have failed. It’s also important to have a support system in place to ensure that you’re taking care of both your loved one and yourself. Determine which tasks you will do yourself, and which ones you will need help with.
These caregiving tips can help ensure success for both yourself and your loved one:
- Build your support system. Enlist the help of family, friends, members of your faith community, neighbors, coworkers, etc. and find out who you can go to when you need assistance with your loved one’s care. Often people are happy to help; they just need to be asked.
- Look into respite care services in your area. Respite care services, such as Visiting Angels provides, offer experienced caregivers who can spend quality time with your loved one while you run errands or take some personal time away. He or she can help with feeding, bathing, transportation to and from treatments, or other daily routines as necessary.
- When feelings of worry arise, talk to a mental health professional or join a support group. Caregiving can sometimes result in feelings of isolation or loneliness. Speaking with a counselor or social worker can provide some relief from worries. Also, joining a caregiver support group can help you connect with others who are experiencing similar situations and provide a safe place to express your feelings and receive support.
- Know your rights. If the company you work for has 50 or more employees and you’ve worked there for at least a year, you are probably offered unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide care for your loved one. Ask your company’s human resources department for help.
Becoming a caregiver to a loved one who has cancer is a wonderful and selfless act, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself in the process. Visiting Angels’ fully trained California home care services team understands the unique challenges that cancer caregivers face. We can work with you one-on-one to develop strategies for coping with whatever emotional or practical challenges you may go through. Contact us at 800-969-0499 to learn more about our in-home care services throughout Santa Clara County as well as Fremont, Union City, Hayward, Newark, Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and Alameda.