When caring for someone with cancer, avoid burnout

March 31, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Caring for someone with cancer can be both exhausting and rewarding. It can be incredibly difficult to see someone you care about not feeling well, and have to take on new duties. While it may be overwhelming at times, your job is actually critical to the health and well-being of your loved one. There’s a name for it: it’s called caregiving.

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who provides support to a loved one fighting a chronic, disabling or life-threatening illness. The type of support a caregiver provides comes in all forms, including: emotional, physical, financial, spiritual or logistical. Caregivers often help their loved ones with anything and everything—from being supportive and helping with medical care to running errands and communicating with medical staff.

How can I avoid caregiver burnout?

Spending the majority of your time focusing on your loved one can be physically, emotionally and spiritually draining. Caregivers often put their own needs aside which can lead to depression, anger, resentment, hostility and frustration. How do you avoid burnout?

  • Set aside time for yourself and plan an event or activity you enjoy.
  • Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of rest.
  • Talk to a friend or health care professional about your feelings. Many therapists and social workers are trained to help individuals with a wide range of issues.
  • Set reasonable goals and don’t take on more than you can handle.
  • Find small ways to pamper yourself to boost your spirits.
  • Let people help you. Try to get as many family members involved as possible to divide caregiving tasks.

There are many caregiver support groups to help you share advice and stay connected with people going through the same type of situation. Groups like Caregiver Action Network, Cancer Support Community and Cancer Survivors Network all have online forums and message boards that can connect caregivers with each other.

What are the rewards of being a caregiver?

Even though caregiving can often be a full-time job, spending so much time with a family member or friend in need can bring you closer and strengthen your relationship. After you overcome a few bumps in the road, you may just discover a new world of hope, courage and strength.

Have you ever been a caregiver for someone? Tell us about it in the below comments!

Learn more about cancer support services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.                                                                  

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