As a caregiver, there’s a lot being asked of you. As simple, everyday tasks become more difficult for your loved one to perform, they’ll rely more and more on you for help. With that in mind, there are several things you’ll need to consider. And not just for the person you’ll be caring for, but yourself as well.
The Responsibilities of a Caregiver
Being a caregiver is exactly what it sounds like. You’re providing a level of care to someone who is unable to provide it for themselves. When taking on this responsibility, these are a few of the things that will be expected of you:
- Speaking with doctors about treatment and your loved one’s physical health
- Monitoring medication
- Transportation to and from medical appointments
- Helping with basic needs such as grooming, bathing, etc.
- Cleaning, cooking food, and helping with other chores around the house
- Be there
This last one is important. In addition to the physical demands of caring for someone, you’re also being asked to provide a large amount of emotional support. It comes as no surprise that serious medical conditions can be a source of stress, frustration, and anxiety. There will be times when your loved one is angry or sad, or just wants to talk. When one’s health is affected to the point that a caregiver is needed, that person can often be one of the only sources of social interaction your loved one has. Part of your job, quite literally, is to be a friend.
When weighing these responsibilities against the resources you have to give, you may find that being a caregiver isn’t right for you. That’s okay. Caregiving can place strains on your time, finances, and personal well-being. Taking on those responsibilities when you’re unable to handle them can be detrimental to you and your loved one. Take a step back and reassess. You may find there are other, smaller ways in which you can contribute that will be every bit as helpful.
Talking About Mesothelioma
Taking on the role of a caregiver can be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Simply put, you’ll need all the help you can get. As you move into this new role, speak with your loved one’s doctor. They can give you information about their treatment, action you should take in case of an emergency, and generally what you should expect as you and your loved one move into this period of your lives together.
Mesothelioma help and caregiver support groups will be another important resource. There’s no one better to speak to than someone who’s been through what you’re going through now. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of their experience. When you have questions, ask them for help.
Care for Yourself
Those whose job it is to care for others can often forget to care for themselves. When that happens, it’s bad for you and for those you’re looking after. Remember that you’re only one person, and as much as you may want to at times, you can’t handle everything by yourself. When you feel yourself being overwhelmed, ask for help. Take time out of your schedule to do things you enjoy. This could be getting away for the weekend, or simply going outside and taking a walk. Make sure to spend time with other people. You’ll find they can be a source of strength.
Plan for the Future
While it’s important (for both of you) to approach your loved one’s medical condition with an optimistic attitude, it’s also important to plan for every contingency. As soon as you’re able to, have a conversation about what you’ll do should things take a turn for the worse and you’re put in the position of making important decisions on behalf of your loved one. You may be granted power of attorney privileges, and be asked to make decisions regarding your loved one’s finances, property, medical treatment, as well as end-of-life issues. Keep in mind that these responsibilities require written consent. Speaking with an attorney with experience in these matters may be beneficial.
Your doctor and local hospitals will be able to provide you with resources, as well as information on groups you’ll be able to attend and people you’ll be able to speak with in person. There are several websites that will also be helpful to you.
- Caring.com provides a large amount of useful content on in-home care for individuals with a variety of different health conditions. The site hosts several online support groups where individuals can share advice and give support.
- Several caregiver groups can be found on Facebook. When searching for the group that’s right for you, look for things like the number of members a group has and the amount of discussion it sees. Activity can be a good indicator of how good a resource it is.
- The National Cancer Institute has published a booklet titled “When Someone You Love is Being Treated for Cancer”, which provides some valuable insight.
- Articles, caregiver checklists, and government resources can be found at The National Caregivers Library.
- The Association of Cancer Online Resources hosts a variety of email support groups where patients and caregivers alike can share information about treatment, their experiences, or simply keep in touch.