Caring for A Loved One With Cancer

By Patricia Barrett-Robillard on January 3 / 2018

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Caregivers, Families]Comments

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If you are a caregiver, you probably know that caring for a loved one can be very overwhelming and stressful at times.  Caregivers often report feeling isolated, sad or angry.  They are juggling the competing demands of providing emotional and physical support of their loved one while meeting their own obligations of home, work, and family.

However, being a caregiver can also be very rewarding.  Some caregivers have reported a closer bond with their loved one, finding added meaning to their lives,  and developing new strengths and skills.  They also report feeling a deeper appreciation for friends and family members.

In any given day as a caregiver, you may experience both “joy and woe”, some days more of one than the  other.  Caregivers are at higher risk for stress and burnout.  They are also at risk for developing or worsening their own health issues.

There are many options caregivers can choose to help them feel more confident as a caregiver while still taking care of their own health.  You don’t need to do them all.  Start with one or two activities.   Small changes can have huge benefits.  A Cancer Coach can help you develop a personalized plan.  Options include:

  • Feel More Empowered:  Increase your knowledge around being a caregiver, your loved one’s illness, how to provide practical support, and community resources.  Connecting with other caregivers can help also as you can learn from each other.
  • Increase Your Circle of Support:  Accept practical help from other family members, friends, neighbours with meals, drives, cleaning, etc.  Have a communications person to handle phone calls, emails, etc.  Use community resources or hire help.   Arrange for respite care for your loved one.
  • Maintain Physical Health and Well-Being:  Exercise regularly, improve nutrition, drink enough water, practice good sleep habits, try meditation or deep breathing, manage your own medical conditions.
  • Manage Emotional Changes:  Acknowledge grief, fear, anger and guilt.  Manage stress and anxiety.  Talk to your loved one about their emotional needs.  Seek professional counselling if needed.  Prioritize time with people, activities and resources that provide hope and nourish you,  instead of ones that drain your energy.
  • Add More Joy (For yourself and with your loved one):  Spend time with friends, engage in hobbies, spend time in nature, take warm baths, book a massage, listen to music, read poetry, watch uplifting/funny shows or movies.  Plan date nights, take time for intimacy.
  • Connect with other caregivers – Sign up for:
    • Cancer Coaching Caregiver Workshop
      Thursday, May 31, 2018
      8:30 am – 4:30 pm
      Cost:  $110 (includes lunch and snacks). You will have time to connect with other caregivers, explore tools and strategies to help you be a more confident caregiver and improve your own health.
    • You will leave with a personalized plan to help you move forward and have a one-to-one follow up with a coach.
    • To register or for more information: Contact Joelle Perrier, Program Assistant at 613-247-3527 or by email at jperrier@ottawacancer.ca

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