Caring For The Caregiver: Make Sure You're Okay Too

Caring for someone with cancer can be a monumental task. Many times, caregivers devote all of their time and energy to caring for their patient and forget about taking care of themselves. This can be very detrimental to the caregiver’s health, both physically and mentally. Check out our list of things to keep in mind as a caregiver!

Things for caregivers to consider...

  • Join a support group There are groups for just caregivers, for caregivers and the patient together, for caregivers after losing their loved one, and more.

  • Keep your friends close To the best extent possible, try to stay in touch with current supportive friends. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to win their battle with cancer, and without the support of friends and family, losing a loved one can be incredibly devastating and isolating. It is much easier to grieve and make it through such an experience when you have friends and family to help you through the experience.

  • Set reasonable personal goals! Maybe you can’t stick to your normal exercise routine, but try to do at least half an hour a few days a week, for example. Also try to set aside a few minutes each day to relax, where you can lay down or go for a walk. Don’t forget about your own mental and physical health as you help to care for someone else!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and accepting it when others offer! Many times people have a tough time asking for help when they get overwhelmed. Don’t hesitate to lean on others when you need to!

  • Remember, it’s okay to be stressed. It’s not okay to feel overwhelmed this is when you need to take a step back and focus on caring for the caregiver! Ask for others to help you cover some of your tasks so you can rest up physically, mentally and emotionally.

  • If you have to take leave from your employment, be sure to know your rights. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires that businesses with 50 or more employees provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, while also continuing their medical benefits as if the employee had not taken a leave. For more information about the act, visit the Department of Labor website: https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/

For more information about a caregiver’s role, and resources to help caregivers take care of themselves as they care for a patient, check out the links below.

http://campus.relayforlife.org/campus-blog/2016/9/11/campus-faqs-caregiver
https://www.cancer.gov/resources-for/caregivers
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/caregiver-support
https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/survivorship/caregivers/

Blog by Alex Pfadenhauer & Colleen Eccles of the North Region Campus Leadership Team

 

Campus FAQ's: Caregiver

What The Heck Is A Caregiver, Anyway?

Blog By: Colleen Eccles & Alex Pfadenhauer, North Campus Leadership Team

Welcome back for the 2016-2017 Relay season! With the start of the new season and the semester, we have some great information to help you connect your committee and relayers with what it really means to be a caregiver. Within the college market caregivers are everywhere, yet no one knows what it really means to be one. There are two forms of caregivers: informal and formal. A formal caregiver is someone who is paid to provide care such as nurse, therapist, social worker and home health aids. College students working toward a degree within these fields will begin to identify within these specifications post graduation and be able to help families and patients. An informal caregiver is someone who is doing it out of love, respect and friendship. Most college and post college relayers will be able to find themselves identifying within this type of caregiving title. Being an informal caregiver can mean anything from sending a text, helping with transportation or just giving your time. 


What is a caregiver?


“A caregiver is a family member, friend, loved one, or other support person who lends physical, emotional, or other support to someone at any time during the cancer journey and continues to do so for those who have lost a loved one to cancer.“
-American Cancer Society


Here’s a fun little exercise that can be used at committee meetings, at your event, etc. to help explain to other Relayers who a Caregiver truly is! (If using at a Relay event, skip the first step)

  1. Have the group brainstorm who a caregiver is:

    1. Use sheets from a flipchart and place them around the room, then divide the group up into small teams and let them work individually before bringing it back to the group

    2. Consolidate all of the groups’ ideas, and write them on the whiteboard

  2. Next, poll the group on what caregiver duties they have performed recently, by asking them to raise their hand or stand up as you call out each action

    1. First, start with the ideas from the brainstorming session. Use ‘formal caregiver’ actions first, then transition to more ‘informal caregiver’ actions. (If you are confused by formal vs. informal, see the CDC resources for caregivers!)

    2. Once you have exhausted the brainstorming ideas, transition to the list provided below. Make sure to hit the majority or all of the points on it!

  3. Now, explain what truly makes a caregiver:

    1. Explain that every single thing that people raised their hand for makes them a caregiver! If you raised your hand at any point, even if only once for calling and checking on someone, you are still considered a caregiver!

    2. Present the definition of a caregiver to reinforce that even the smallest efforts matter! (For example, use the CDC resources to explain formal vs. informal, and show that everyone ….. )

    3. Use the resources below as well as other cancer.org information to demonstrate the role and importance of caregivers.

  4. Call to action! Now, you need to utilize all of this new caregiver energy!

    1. Obviously, make sure they have registered and are fundraising for your event

    2. Encourage them to get their survivor or other caregivers involved

    3. Recruit them to lead the caregiver lap or volunteer at the survivor tent/meal/etc at your event

    4. Remind them to spread the word about what it means to be a caregiver! There are so many people who have no idea they qualify, but if we start spreading the word, it will


You are a caregiver if you…

  • Drive them to or from treatment

  • Make (or buy) them meals

  • Send them a text checking in

  • Help with yardwork

  • Hold their hand during treatment

  • Pick up groceries for them

  • Help with personal care

  • Help out with household tasks

  • .... Do anything to support a survivor or their family physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Additional Resources

(Material partially obtained from the American Cancer Society Eastern Division Relay For Life Survivorship Chair Guidebook and the American Cancer Society California Division Relay For Life Survivorship Handbook)