Today 80 percent of all cancer treatment occurs on an outpatient basis in community-based cancer centers, rather than in a hospital. Spouses are usually the primary caregivers and do not receive education or preparation for their role as a caregiver. Therefore, caregivers require support and education to meet these demands. They play a significant role in the management of their loved ones cancer treatment which often includes an increase in responsibilities and the management of household and work schedules. Caregivers often express their concerns of meeting the needs of their loved ones and can be vulnerable both physically and emotionally in their new roles. Fatigue being the number one concern for patients and their families may need assistance with meals, personal care, transportation, child care and housekeeping. Obviously, this is not the time for a patient or family to try and manage the complexities of cancer care alone.
As demands for caregiving increases and as patients survive longer, caregivers need to be aware of the physical and emotional impact on their health as well as the resources that are available for support. Caregivers are at high risk for depression, anxiety and increased decline in their physical health. There are many things caregivers can do to help avoid burn out and tend to their health needs and quality of life. Included here are 10 recommendations that are worth exploring and incorporating into your role as a caregiver.
In spite of the exhausting challenges of caregiving, it can enrich a person’s life. Caregivers often feel a sense of satisfaction knowing they helped their loved one in a time of great need. Additionally, caregiving often brings people closer together and enables them to gain greater perspective on their relationship and the purpose of their own life.
Attending a support group is often very helpful for caregivers to connect with others who share the same concerns or caring for a loved one with cancer. However, we know that taking the time to attend a group can be difficult to find the time in an already busy schedule. Our Virginia Cancer Specialist Oncology Social Worker, is available to caregivers for individual consults to support you with your concerns, challenges or needed resources. You can call 703-208-9383 or schedule an individual consult with our Oncology Social Worker. VCS is here to support you, the caregivers and families with the challenges of managing your loved ones care.
Caregiving is probably one of the most challenging things a person will ever do. Caregivers need to learn ways to take care of themselves, because if they aren’t taking care of themselves, they can’t properly take care of anyone else. They shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, as no one can do this job alone.