Two out of three Americans can expect to serve as a family caregiver at some point in their lifetime. With cancer predicted to outstrip heart disease as the leading cause of death in America, many family caregivers will be caring for cancer patients. But those cold, impersonal facts are far removed from the intensely personal and emotional experience of caring for a family member with cancer.
Highs and Lows of Being a Caregiver
Serving as a cancer caregiver for someone you love can be a tremendously rewarding experience. But trying to juggle your own life with your responsibilities as a caregiver can also take a huge toll on your physical and mental health. Many family caregivers place the needs of their loved one ahead of their own needs which is completely human and sometimes necessary. But failing to take care of yourself can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed which helps neither you nor the family member you are caring for.
Caring for the Caregiver
To be an effective caregiver for a family member with cancer, you must take care of yourself.
Use the following strategies to stay emotionally and physically healthy:
• Caregiving can be an isolating experience. Establish a good support network and enlist family and friends to help out. Accept help when it’s offered and call on your support team when you need a break.
• Know the warning signs of stress: exhaustion, irritability, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness, eating too much or too little and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Chronic stress erodes your physical health and may lead to depression. Monitor your health and see your doctor regularly.
You know your loved one is receiving the best possible care at Issels alternative cancer treatment centers. Family caregivers must take equally good care of themselves.