The role of the caregiver for someone going through cancer treatment takes on new levels of responsibilities that may often feel overwhelming. The toll of frequent appointments, multiple medications and treatments, and the numerous life changes can isolate not only the patient, but also the caregiver as well.
The Nurse Navigators at the Cecil B. Highland, Jr. & Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center (UHC), want to reassure all caregivers that they are not alone in this journey and that there are resources available to them. Find answers below to commonly asked questions that every caregiver asks themselves at some point in their role.
What does a caregiver for a cancer patient do?
A caregiver for a cancer patient may provide physical, mental, and spiritual care. This care may include assistance with daily needs such as bathing, dressing, shaving, or household chores. Cancer patients may need assistance getting to doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, or going to the grocery store. Medical care such as changing bandages, using a feeding tube, or giving injections may be provided. These needs can change over time as the cancer patient’s health may improve or deteriorate.
How involved should I be in the cancer treatment?
The degree of a caregiver’s involvement should be discussed with the cancer patient and his or her family. The amount of involvement may change over time and is different for everyone.
How will I know if I am doing enough as a caregiver?
Ask the patient if their needs are being met. If the answer is yes, then you are doing enough. If the answer is no, ask the patient what they need and how you can help. Good communication is important as a caregiver.
What if I begin to feel overwhelmed in my caregiver role?
Ask for help from other family members, friends, or organizations. Take a break to care for yourself. Look for local support groups to join.
How can I continue living my life outside of my role as a caregiver?
Ask for help from other family members or friends to allow yourself a break. If you have others helping you, then be sure to make a schedule and try to keep a normal routine for yourself and your family.
Are there resources that can help caregivers?
Check for resources or support groups through your local senior centers, social media platforms, your health insurance provider, and online. In-person resources are limited or not available currently due to Covid-19 in most areas.
If you are caring for a veteran contact the veteran’s Care in the Community caseworker to see what resources are available for him or her.
Some cancer patients may qualify for home health services. Ask your navigator for more information.
For more information, visit https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/caregiver-support. This information is recommended by Angy Helmick RN, OCN, a nurse navigator at UHC. Learn more about the support provided by nurse navigators by visiting https://wvcancercenter.com/nurse-navigator/.
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