Monday, November 12, 2012

Caring for the Caregiver

Research has shown that emotional support is as important to a cancer patient as the physical treatment that they receive, and the support of caregivers is a vital component in their successful recovery. If you are caring for your loved-one as they are going through cancer treatments, you know how all-consuming your role can be. Many caregivers are surprised to find themselves not only physically exhausted, but mentally and emotionally drained as well.

Besides the stress of simply being there for your loved-one around the clock, you might also experience increased feelings of isolation and loneliness due to your single-minded focus. Calling on friends and neighbors to give some relief - even if only for an hour here and there - is vital. A caregiver needs to care for themselves as well in order to provide effective support for the patient.

If you're a caregiver who does not have other people in your life to offer support, seek out support groups, counselors, or even online information that is available to help replenish your emotional state. A good source for information online is the National Family Caregivers Association. Don't hesitate to ask friends for help if they don't offer - many people want to help but don't know what to offer.

There are also agencies that specialize in caring for patients that can be contracted on a monthly, weekly or even an "as-needed" basis. Look online or in your local phone book for "home health", "in-home care", and "personal assistance" companies. Some have nurses on staff to assist those who need medical care at home, while others offer non-medical services like running errands, doing your shopping, or house-cleaning. If you are in Northwest Arkansas, you can call us for a list of local agencies that offer services in our area.

If you or someone you know are experiencing emotional difficulties resulting from caring for a cancer patient, call us. Hope Cancer Resources offers counseling to cancer patients and their families and caregivers at no-cost. Our social workers are available for consultation Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 479-361-5847.

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