What are some of the best ways for a patient’s caregiver to take care of themselves?

Caring for someone with cancer can be trying for anyone, no matter how much you love the person. In order to be a good caregiver, however, you have to continue taking care of yourself at the same time you are learning to care of a loved one.

It is easy for caregivers to get wrapped up in the routine of caring for their loved one and forget to take care of themselves. The National Cancer Institute suggests the following ways caregivers can cope with their feelings and nurture themselves:

  • let go of mistakes
  • cry or express their feelings
  • connect with whom they are giving care
  • look for the positive
  • let themselves laugh
  • write in a journal
  • be thankful

Many times, caregivers try and do everything on their own. It is important to ask for help from other family members. Some friends may even be willing to help out. However, it is important to ask and to be specific about what you need.

Sometimes people may say no, but it never hurts to ask for help and make friends and family aware of the needs of both patient and caregiver.

It is also common for caregivers to neglect their own health by missing doctors’ appointments, forgetting to refill a prescription or eating unhealthy meals because they are tired.

When caregivers neglect their own health issues, they exacerbate the fatigue and stress in their lives. Caregivers should be encouraged to keep all of their appointments, take all medications (if any), continue to eat healthy, and to take at least a few minutes for their self every day. Caregivers should also educate themselves and learn more about cancer. It might be a good idea to talk to a counselor or join a support group.

ä Internet Resources:

Coping with Cancer: For Caregivers, Family, and Friends – NCI: cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/familyfriends

Caregiving – Cancer Care: cancercare.org/tagged/caregiving

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave.