Care for the Caregiver: Helpful Suggestions for Those Who Help
What can a person expect in his/her role of caregiver?
Cancer is a life-altering event in which the patient suddenly finds himself or herself in a new, unexpected, and often frightening situation. Naturally, it impacts caregivers as well, which is why taking care of yourself is vital.
While providing care, it's okay to set aside your own needs from time to time. But keep it in perspective: a caregiver who's stressed out or overwhelmed might not be able to care for a loved one as well as he or she wants to.
This could lead to feelings of anger, sadness, grief, or guilt. Understanding that these emotions are normal is the first step to working through them.
What are some things caregivers can do for themselves?
Many caregivers look at several ways to maintain their own well-being:
- Be honest with yourself about your feelings; if you're angry, it's okay to say so
- Share your feelings with those who can help, like a doctor or therapist
- Maintain a balance between your needs and the needs of your loved one
- Make time for resting and taking care of your own health
- Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can at this time
- Join a caregiver support group
Is it okay to ask for help as a caregiver?
As a caregiver, if you need some assistance, ask for it—doing so benefits both you and your loved one. Delegate tasks to others for a little while. Encourage someone to pitch in. You might be surprised how willing people can be to lend a helping hand.
The goal is to not feel that you're doing too much on your own, or to regret that you haven't asked for help. The sooner you can reestablish balance in your life, the sooner you can go back to being a source of strength and support. If you're interested in joining a caregiver support group, ask a nurse or social worker about one in your area.