Thursday, February 7, 2013

Caring for a loved One with Cancer

Thanks to guest blogger Faith Franz with the Mesothelioma Center for today's post.

Caring for a Loved One with Cancer

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, life changes. It’s a given.

It’s not just the patient, though, who has to adjust. Friends and family members often take on various caregiving responsibilities, and the patient’s health and wellbeing becomes a primary concern. For some caregivers, it becomes the primary interest – which can quickly take a toll on their own health and wellbeing.

It’s normal to want to do everything in your power to help your loved one. The average caregiver spends 20.4 hours per week providing care – roughly the same as a part-time job.

But providing medical care (i.e. transportation to doctor appointments and pharmacies), physical care and emotional support can become all-consuming. Roughly 70 percent of working caregivers say they’ve struggle in the office because of their caregiving duties, and 17 percent say their role has caused their own health to deteriorate.

On the flip side, one in 12 caregivers says their health is improved by caring for a loved one. And in caregivers who have sought support for their new role, their perception of their role is even more positive.

Emotional Support for Caregivers

Caregivers can find emotional support from a number of different avenues. Hospice programs and cancer centers often extend their counseling services to caregivers, while cancer support groups often welcome caregivers as members. Internet-based email groups and chat forums offer a virtual way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

Support systems address a wide range of topics. They often focus on caregivers’ primary concerns, like:

• Keeping their loved ones safe
• Managing stress
• Coming up with easy activities to do with their loved one
• Finding time for themselves

These groups serve as an invaluable source of mental and emotional support. They teach caregivers how to balance their own needs with the patient’s – which ultimately puts them in the position to provide higher quality care.

Author bio: Faith Franz has spent nearly two years researching and writing for The Mesothelioma Center. As an advocate for alternative medicine, she encourages patients to explore all of the treatment options that could potentially save their life.

Family Caregiver Alliance. FCA: Selected Caregiver Statistics. (2010). Retrieved from