Who is a caregiver?
A caregiver for a cancer patient is any person who has the responsibility for caring for the patient and assists in the management of the illness.
Caregivers provide physical, practical and emotional support. Most caregivers are family members or friends. At times, a patient may hire a person who is a professional caregiver.
At Winship, we recognize the caregiver is an important member of the patient’s health care team but also needs support through the cancer journey.
Possible Duties of a Caregiver
There are a number of duties a caregiver may perform for you, including:
- Advocating on your behalf.
- Helping you comply with medication guidelines.
- Making sure you schedule necessary medical visits.
- Monitoring and managing some side effects.
- Assisting you with daily living activities, like cooking, bill paying, cleaning, etc.
- Cheering you on and helping you maintain a positive attitude.
Tips and Resources for Your Caregiver
Whether your caregiver is experienced, or doing this for the first time, here are some ways to help them:
- Help them practice self-care by getting rest, exercising and eating well. Sometimes caregivers neglect themselves, which will have a negative impact on both of you. Caregiver burnout is possible.
- Remind them to keep their own doctor appointments.
- Recommend that they take a moment every day to do one thing for themselves.
- Have a support network. Winship provides a support group just for caregivers.
- Ask for help and accept help offered.
Most of all, caregivers should be flexible and not expect to be perfect.
When caring for a patient with cancer, it's important for a caregiver to be up-to-date with their vaccines, especially the annual flu shot.
The American Cancer Society provides valuable online resources for caregivers to help with learning how to care for themselves as a caregiver, better understand what their loved one is going through, develop skills for coping and caring, and take steps to help protect their own health and well-being.
If you or your caregiver are having difficulty coping, seek professional help from the Winship social services team. Contact (404) 778-1900 to request an appointment.