When a loved one has cancer, it’s natural to want to drop everything and help him or her, but taking on the role of a caregiver is not without challenges. Cancer treatments and their side effects can be particularly difficult for both the patients themselves and their loved ones, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed at times.
As a caregiver, it is important to know and accept your own limits, and to know that reaching your limit does not mean that you have failed. Having a support system is part of taking care of your loved one and yourself. Decide which tasks you will do on your own, and which you will need help with.
When taking on the caregiving role, a few things you can do to set yourself up for success include:
- Build your support system. Talk to friends, family members, 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.
- Research respite care services in your area. Respite care service, like those provided by North River Home Care of Norwell, provide you with an experienced caregiver who can spend time with and care for 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 feeling worried or overwhelmed, talk to a mental health professional or join a support group. Caregiving can often make you feel isolated or lonely. Speaking with a counselor or oncology social worker can help you cope with your 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 you work for a company with 50 or more employees and have worked there for at least one year, you are probably allowed 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. North River Home Care’s professionally trained caregiving staff 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 781.659.1366 to learn more about our in-home care services.