by Liza Berger
Caring for someone with a life-threatening
disease can take a toll emotionally and
physically. That is why taking care of yourself
is paramount, Price said. Feeling your
emotions—whether it is fear, anger or guilt—is
part of the process, Price said.
Depression can be common among caregivers, and
they should seek professional help immediately
if they are experiencing signs of depression,
according to CancerConsultants.com.
Reducing stress may be the most important part of
self-care. It’s first necessary to identify sources
of stress, such as having too much to do, feelings
of inadequacy, and the inability to say no,
CancerConsultants.com says. Then you have to
identify what you can and cannot change, and accept
it. Finally, take action. Carve out personal time
for yourself to do what you like. This could be
exercising, meditation or talking to a good friend.
Setting goals over the next three to six months
helps you to decide what you need for yourself, the
Web site says. Objectives could be feeling healthier
or taking a break from caregiving. Action steps
could be walking three days a week or making an
appointment to see the doctor for a check-up.
Accepting help from others, whether it is a
family member, friend or professional is a good way
to help ease a caregiver’s stress. Asking for help
is a sign of personal strength. But don’t wait until
you are too overwhelmed or exhausted to ask them.
When making a request, use “I” statements to make
specific requests. One example is, “I would like to
go to lunch with a friend on Saturday. Would you
stay with Dad from 12 to 2?”
It also helps to be a team with your healthcare
provider, as Manarite did, to find the best
treatments for the cancer. The relationship should
also help the caregiver with his/her health needs.
It is important to be assertive and use good
communication skills. Here are a few tips from
- Prepare questions ahead of time. Make a list
of your concerns, problems and issues.
- Make sure the appointment meets your needs.
The first appointment in the morning or after
lunch or the last appointment of the day are the
best times to cut your waiting time and
accommodate numerous questions.
- Use assertive communication and “I”
messages. For example: “I need to know more
about the diagnosis; I would like to know what
the best options are, and why.
”Manarite believes that advocates should always
get copies of the medical records. Patients are
entitled to copies. She offers a recommendation she
learned from experience: Get the record when you’re
sitting with the doctor. Don’t wait for the nurse or
receptionist to secure one for you.