Many cancer caregivers experience the symptoms of stress and burnout that you as a caregiver may be experiencing right now. You either sleep too much or not enough. Your weight might be fluctuating, or you may feel overwhelmed or worried all the time. The list goes on, and very often caregivers get so accustomed to living with their stress symptoms that it becomes a kind of “normal.” But it really isn’t.
Cancer caregiver burnout affects people in different ways. And in many instances, it stems from being so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize your own physical and mental health could be suffering. It can be difficult to shift out of the caregiver mindset, but it’s so important that you do. The bottom line is, if you are not well, you won’t be able to care for your loved one.
10 ways to manage cancer caregiver stress.
- Think of ways others can offer help, then and ask for—and welcome—it –Delegating even the smallest tasks can make a big difference. Allow a friend or family member to pick up your groceries or your loved one’s prescription. Ask a family member to help with time-consuming chores like laundry, house or yard maintenance.
- Focus on the good you’re doing –Caregiver guilt is just as common as burnout, but the fact is a “perfect” caregiver does not exist. Know and believe you are always giving your best effort, support and advice.
- Avoid doing everything at once –Break things up. Tackle big tasks in smaller steps. Also, prioritize your tasks. What can wait? What can’t? And remember to just say “no” to big commitments like hosting a party or a holiday meal.
- Seek the support of caregiver resources –Your community may offer support through classes about the disease your loved one is facing. You may also find that other services such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping are available.
- Attend support group meetings –The validation and encouragement you need can be found in caregiver support groups, which often consist of people just like you who are going through similar situations. Plus, not only can you glean problem-solving strategies for tough situations, you may make some new friends.
- Stay connected –Keep family and friends close. Set aside time as often as possible to connect with a friend by grabbing some coffee or taking a walk.
- Set health goals for yourself – Staying physically active several days a week, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can work wonders for your sleep and energy levels.
- Solve that sleeping problem – Talk to your doctor about ways to help you get better sleep, or ask a family member to be “on call” for your loved one every other night.
- Don’t skip your own doctor appointments –Be sure to stick to your recommended vaccinations and screenings. And during your checkups, be sure to mention you’re a caregiver and share any concerns or symptoms you have.
- Consider respite care – Give yourself frequent breaks by finding a trusted source to care for your loved one. Help is out there, including in-home care, support centers or programs, short-term nursing home care or assisted living.
Revolutionizing treatment of later-stage and aggressive cancers.
For caregivers and patients, navigating cancer can be confusing, complex and exhausting. But what if caregivers and patients both could experience a higher quality of life during the cancer journey and have real hope of beating cancer, even beyond its early stages?
At Certis Oncology Solutions, we lay the groundwork for truly personalized cancer treatment in San Diego. Our teams test multiple drug therapies on your tumor (but not on you), at the same time, on specialized mice that have your tumor tissue implanted and growing. This helps doctors determine which therapies will be most likely to be effective against your loved one’s cancer. This can give you and the cancer patient in your care new hope in the fight, which can go a long way toward reducing caregiver burnout.
To find out if your loved one is a candidate for our advanced tumor testing, call to schedule a consultation at 866-259-0170 or use our convenient online form.