A cancer diagnosis can be tough to take, and not just for the patient.
Caregivers are a vital part of a cancer patient’s care team, but the role can be exhausting. Plenty of caregivers struggle with the challenges of helping their loved one navigate treatment and, hopefully, survival.
Research published in the journal Medicine measured the scope of the problem.
“The prevalence of anxiety and depression in cancer patient caregivers, as measured with validated instruments, is approximately 47% and 42%, respectively,” the researchers, led by Hai Mei Geng from Beijing Shijitan Hospital in China, said when the study was released. “This high prevalence of anxiety and depression affects the quality of life of the caregiver.”
Here are some tips to help you navigate caregiving for someone with cancer and provide the best care you can for your loved one.
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Communication is key
Take the time to listen to the patient. They may have strong feelings about what they want to do for themselves and where they need help. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) suggests reassuring the patient they will be a central part of all decisions and discussions. Remain open to the patient’s feelings and opinions. Still, you should acknowledge your feelings when speaking with the patient.
When communicating with the care team, use a notebook. Writing down your questions and keeping them handy during visits with the caregiving team is helpful.
ASCO suggests the following questions for the care team:
- What is the type of cancer?
- What are the treatment options?
- What does the diagnosis and stage mean?
- What should the patient expect during their treatment?
- What kind of physical and emotional support will the patient need?
- Who should the patient contact with other questions and during non-business hours?
- Can you recommend a social worker to help with support services?
Staying organized will help ease the stress of caregiving for someone with cancer.
A day planner may be helpful if you prefer pen and paper; many offer ample space for notes. It will also allow for