Recently, your spouse was diagnosed with cancer; suddenly, you assumed the role of primary caregiver; you are anxious or apprehensive about what to expect. Caregivers are defined as non-professionals who provide unpaid care for a loved one.
Being a caregiver can turn into a full-time job. If you’re already working, providing care to a spouse going through cancer treatment can be exhausting. As a caregiver, it’s vital to get the support you need to make sure you don’t experience caregiver burnout.
Here are some tips for making sure you’re as prepared as possible as you step into your new role.
Cancer caregivers can wear a lot of hats. For example, you maybe be tasked with providing primary nursing care, such as bathing and dressing your loved one, as well as assisting them with showering and toileting. You might also need to prepare their meals per specific dietary restrictions.
Depending on your spouse’s treatment plan, you might also need to transport them to doctors’ appointments, hospital visits, and therapy sessions. There may be inevitable financial and legal matters you need to sort, such as working with insurance companies to make sure medical bills are processed properly.
When you add in everyday household chores like vacuuming and laundry, it’s easy to see how cancer caregiving can lead to fatigue. Many caregivers get so busy they forget to look after their health and well-being. Leading to illness and even resentment that strains their relationship with their spouse.
While serving as a caregiver can be physically and emotionally taxing, you can alleviate some of the burden by embracing your role. Some caregivers say that caring for their spouse during an illness brought them closer together as a couple. After all, most wedding vows include a phrase like “in sickness and in health.”
Are you worried about doing an excellent job as a cancer caregiver? Try to focus on potentially positive aspects of your role; the opportunity to spend more quality time with your spouse. You can focus on activities you both enjoy, even if it’s something as simple as taking walks or watching your favorite movies together.
Being a caregiver might also open the door to new relationships and companionship. Many caregivers connect with support groups that include other spouses who are providing caregiving services.
Getting in touch with someone who understands your experience can provide you with a friendly shoulder to lean on when you need it When someone else has been in your shoes, they can be an invaluable source of guidance and support.
Of course, not everyone is the right fit for caregiving. If you’re reluctant to become a caregiver for your spouse, it’s okay to feel this way. For some people, caregiving is a calling, and they feel comfortable stepping into that role. For others, however, caregiving is so draining that it creates rifts in their relationship with their loved one.
There may be alternative arrangements that can help you ensure your spouse is taken care of while preserving your mental and physical health and happiness.
If you’re in this situation, it’s a good idea to speak with your loved one’s doctors and other health care professionals. They may be able to point you in the direction of services or arrangements that let you bring a professional caregiver into your home.
Your options in this regard may depend on what kind of health insurance you have and what it offers in terms of coverage for caregiving services. You may also be able to coordinate with relatives or close friends to share some tasks of caregiving.
When a busy work schedule makes it difficult or impossible for you to transport your spouse to appointments, a retired friend, neighbor, or close relative might be happy to take on this role. Or if you have a good friend who loves to cook, they might be delighted to help you with meal preparation a few times a week.
The critical thing to remember is that it’s okay to ask for help. Moreover, caregiving doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. You have a right to structure caregiving in a way that works best for you and your spouse.
No matter what cancer caregiving looks like for you, it’s still important to look after yourself. You can’t be fully engaged in caregiving if you’re falling ill or suffering from mental health problems due to caregiver burnout. Here are some tips for making sure you take care of yourself even as you care for your spouse.
No one can serve as a caregiver 24/7. Even medical professionals like doctors and nurses need breaks. Otherwise, the stress and exhaustion of continually looking after others takes a toll.
Caregivers need the same kinds of pauses. Don’t feel guilty about taking a day off when you need it. If it’s difficult for you to get away, try taking smaller and more frequent breaks. For example, go for a long walk or take a trip to the store. Make an appointment to get your hair cut. Splurge on a manicure or pedicure. Even a half-hour of relaxation or pampering can help you reset.
Respite care is a type of short-term care that allows full-time caregivers to take breaks from their responsibilities. There are various forms of respite care, including professionals who help caregivers take a break from caring for the elderly, those with dementia, people recovering from surgery, and those who have cancer.
One of the main advantages of respite care is that it allows caregivers to entrust their loved ones to someone who specializes in this type of care. The groups and facilities that provide respite care can come in various forms, from rehabilitation centers to civic and religious organizations.
The type of respite care you need can vary. For some families, it’s enough to have someone sit with the patient at home for a few hours while the caregiver runs errands. In other situations, the patient needs more intensive support, such as medical care, which requires a higher level of skill among respite care staff.
You’ll need to check with your insurance provider to determine if your health care plan covers respite care services. In other cases, programs like Medicare and Medicaid will cover the cost of respite care.
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Caregiving involves a variety of tasks; it is unlikely that anyone can adequately handle them all. The same is true of things like parenting.
For example, some parents are fabulous cooks who can whip up a healthy and delicious meal with little effort. On the other hand, some parents burn toast or have a hard time managing boiling water.
However, both types of parents can be great at parenting overall. Maybe the expert chef parent struggles to find stimulating activities for their child. In contrast, the parent who is terrible in the kitchen is a pro at organizing fun and educational crafts and home science experiments.
The bottom line is that everyone has their style. You don’t have to be an expert at everything to be the right caregiver. Moreover, it’s essential to recognize what you’re good at, as well as where you might fall short.
By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be better prepared to ask for help when you need it. Find your limits and then build a support network that helps you fill in the gaps so you can focus on the things you do well.
Being in a committed relationship is a partnership. In other words, to be navigated with a companion. Your spouse is the patient, but he or she is also your partner.
Ensure a smooth transition as possible, communicate with your spouse about your feelings regarding your role as a caregiver. It’s okay, to be honest about how you feel. Share your fears and anxieties about taking on the task.
Also, ask your spouse how they feel about you acting as a caregiver. Being a patient with an illness can often make people feel a little depersonalized. Sometimes medical professionals view them as their disease rather than as a unique person with their thoughts and feelings.
As a spouse, you already know your loved one’s personality traits and lovable quirks. By embracing your role as a caregiver, you can help remind them that they’re a unique individual and not just a statistic. With a little work and some preparation, you can ensure that caregiving is a positive experience for you and your spouse.