Are you serving as a cancer caregiver? If so, know that you’re not alone. In 2011, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reported that more than 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time was assisting with caring for an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend.
Today – 7 years later – complex cancer care is shifting away from the inpatient hospital setting and moving into the home. That’s why I am offering resources and support for a cancer giver in today’s blog post.
The 7 Aspects of Caregiving
I recently read the results of a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, that was designed to better understand the needs and quality of life concerns of those providing care to a loved one with cancer. They interviewed people who were caring for a loved one with cancer. Their answers fell into seven aspects of caregiving:
Physical Support for a Cancer Caregiver
Family caregivers expressed a desire to understand the patient’s needs as well as be present, attentive, and reassuring. The most repeated theme was the presence of and difficulty in dealing with treatment-related side effects.
Psychological Support for a Cancer Caregiver
Uncertainty was a common theme that often gave way to anxiety, stress, and feeling overwhelmed. Many caregivers expressed a desire to be present and offer support even as they faced a lack of emotional energy.
Social Support for a Cancer Caregiver
A recurring theme among those caring for a loved one with cancer was social isolation – felt both by the one being cared for and the caregiver. Caregivers reported needing support and not just information. A quote from one caregiver says that “ The details about the clinical trials available online needed to be supplemented with a person who could answer questions. “ This caregiver found the information to be confusing, overwhelming, and largely indecipherable. “ It’s just a lot of literature that I have no idea about… I did not go to med school; I don’t know what I’m reading. I need help”
Spiritual Support for a Cancer Caregiver
Having a faith community provided a source of support for those caring for a loved one with cancer.
Financial Support for a Cancer Caregiver
There were many costs associated with care, but the most commonly reported were the expenses of last-minute flights, gasoline, overnight hotel stays, restaurant meals, and time lost at work. Even those who reported having healthcare coverage and financial stability voiced anxiety about the financial impact.
The majority of the respondents were neglecting self-care in order to care for their loved ones. Many reported a lack of sleep and exhaustion. The family caregivers in this study voiced their need for support and resources.
Cancer Caregiving Tips
Are you caring for a loved one with cancer? An independent health consultant with subject matter expertise in Oncology could supply some of the much-needed support to help you move forward with confidence:
- Helping the family caregiver understand the disease and better anticipate the side effects associated with their loved one’s treatment eliminates much of the anxiety associated with uncertainty.
- Connecting the family with community support services alleviates the isolation and allows the family caregiver an opportunity for self-care.
- Providing clarification and understanding of the medical literature, specifically clinical trials and treatment options to increase confidence in decision-making.
- Connecting the caregiver with resources to assist with managing the financial burdens associated with a catastrophic illness
Best Resources for a Cancer Caregiver
Are you or someone you know serving as a cancer caregiver? Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, I have developed a resource to help you:
- Educate yourself on the disease and help you know what to expect
- Understand the medical jargon, treatment options, and clinical trials
- Assemble your clinical and support teams
- Locate financial, psychological, and social support
- Manage your mindset