An unpaid loved one who gives the person with cancer both physical and mental care.
We understand that a cancer diagnosis does not just affect the person that has been diagnosed. It also affects the family and close friends. A caregiver is a part of a cancer care team. They must work closely with the medical staff and other friends and family who may want to help
Becoming a caregiver is a big responsibility and there is much more to it than just giving medication. Caregivers have many roles and these roles change as the needs of the patient’s change. Many cancer treatments are being done on an outpatient basis and the need for home care is greater.
Your mood affects their mood
As a caregiver your attitude, both positive and negative, will affect the patient directly and how they deal with their specific issues and illness. Everyone is different and everyone handles things in a different way. Cancer treatments are not easy and therefore a caregiver must be willing to be firm and supportive if the patient is going through a demanding treatment or does not want to eat healthily or rest enough. Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer do not want to be seen as though they cannot care for themselves. Being positive will not only help the patient stay positive but will keep their focus on themselves and not worrying about you.
What does a caregiver do?
Some of the things that a caregiver will be expected to do are:
- Giving medications
- Managing side effects
- Keeping family and friends informed
- Helping to decide what treatment is working
- Shop and prepare food
- Assist in eating
- Bathe, groom and dress
- Use the bathroom
- Clean home and do laundry
- Pay bills
- Escort to doctor’s appointments, tests and treatments
- Manage medical issues at home
- Decide when to seek health care or to see a doctor for new problems
Be a problem solver
A person who has been diagnosed with cancer is immediately faced with many challenges. As a caregiver, you can help them understand all of the information that is given. Sometimes hearing the information from a medical staff is harsh. Learn and understand the information so that when you are asked questions by the patient then you can explain it in a way that is simpler to understand. This will allow the patient to have faith in you and know that you are doing all that you can to help them. Knowing that they are not going through this alone will be helpful in their journey. A caregiver must not be afraid to ask questions. Some news may upset the patient and it is the caregiver’s job to be well informed. The more you know the more you can help the patient.
Having open communication with not only the patient but the medical team, friends, and family. There will be a lot of questions and updates needed.
When communication with the patient always reassure them and let them know that you are there for them and that you will help them through this hard time.
Remember to respect your own needs and feelings as well as the patient’s needs. Being open and honest will help the patient to gain trust and will allow for you both to have a strong relationship throughout this process.
Most people immediately think “What can I do to help?” when they hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. The decision to become a caregiver is not one that should be taken lightly. It is a big commitment and must be discussed with the patient.
For more information on being a caregiver please visit https://www.cancer.org/treatment/caregivers.html