Before Treatment: Preparing for Long-Term & Late Effects
March 27, 2013
At Diagnosis: Identifying Genetic Risks
March 24, 2013
After Treatment: Developing a Survivorship Care Plan
March 27, 2013
At Diagnosis: Learning About Cancer Online
March 25, 2013
Before Treatment: Seeking a Second Opinion
March 27, 2013
After Treatment: Handling Fear of Recurrence
March 26, 2013
At Diagnosis: Balancing Cancer & Work
March 27, 2013
Glossary
May 09, 2011
Welcome to CURE's Annual Cancer Guide
March 15, 2013
Caregiving: Practicing Self-Care
March 27, 2013
Caregiving: Taking on a New Role
March 27, 2013
During Treatment: Staying Active
March 27, 2013
During Treatment: Managing Financial Matters
March 26, 2013
During Treatment: Getting Proper Nutrition
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Handling Insurance Matters
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Understanding Clinical Trials
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Making Medical Decisions
March 28, 2013
At Diagnosis: Assessing Age-Related Issues
March 26, 2012
At Diagnosis: Dealing With Emotions
March 26, 2013
Before Treatment: Making Sense of Cancer Therapies
March 26, 2013
At Diagnosis: Understanding Pathology & Staging
March 26, 2013
Introduction: What is Cancer?
March 27, 2013
During Treatment: Dealing With Side Effects
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Preparing for Long-Term & Late Effects
March 27, 2013
At Diagnosis: Identifying Genetic Risks
March 24, 2013
After Treatment: Developing a Survivorship Care Plan
March 27, 2013
At Diagnosis: Learning About Cancer Online
March 25, 2013
Before Treatment: Seeking a Second Opinion
March 27, 2013
After Treatment: Handling Fear of Recurrence
March 26, 2013
At Diagnosis: Balancing Cancer & Work
March 27, 2013
Glossary
May 09, 2011
Welcome to CURE's Annual Cancer Guide
March 15, 2013
Caregiving: Practicing Self-Care
March 27, 2013
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Caregiving: Taking on a New Role
March 27, 2013
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March 26, 2013
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March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Handling Insurance Matters
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Understanding Clinical Trials
March 28, 2013
Before Treatment: Making Medical Decisions
March 28, 2013
At Diagnosis: Assessing Age-Related Issues
March 26, 2012
At Diagnosis: Dealing With Emotions
March 26, 2013
Before Treatment: Making Sense of Cancer Therapies
March 26, 2013
At Diagnosis: Understanding Pathology & Staging
March 26, 2013
Introduction: What is Cancer?
March 27, 2013
During Treatment: Dealing With Side Effects
March 28, 2013

Caregiving: Taking on a New Role

Notes on navigating the challenging territory of caregiving

PUBLISHED March 27, 2013

Being a caregiver is one of the most important—and loving—things someone can do. And millions of Americans have taken on this role. Navigating this new terrain isn’t without its challenges, but, while everyone’s cancer journey is unique, there are some caregiving tips that apply to nearly everyone.

Talk it out. It's important that caregivers take some time to process what's happening. They should talk to the patient about the decisions that will need to be made quickly, including second opinions, treatments and where to be treated.

Listen and learn. During appointments, caregivers should take notes or, with the doctor's OK, record the session. Unless the caregiver has permission from the patient to pursue a dialogue with the doctor, the patient should lead the conversation. Once the treatment plan has been determined by the medical team, the caregiver should get the plan in writing and ask questions about any points that are unclear.

Be realistic about what's ahead. Treatment can be taxing, both emotionally and physically, so caregivers shouldn't minimize what they or their loved one is going through. Patients react differently to treatments, and chemotherapy's toll can be cumulative. Patients may feel fine at the outset of treatment but may feel worse before starting to feel better.

Perform simple acts of kindness. Small gestures can help lift patients' spirits. Experts say it's completely normal for patients to experience days when they feel dejected, lonely, afraid or depressed. Caregivers should allow patients some time and space to be alone. 

Discuss legal and financial issues. If the patient hasn't already done so, he or she may want to take care of important affairs, such as wills, living wills and medical power of attorney. Even if the cancer has a high cure rate, it's something everyone should do at some point. Also, consider reviewing financial details, such as bank accounts, tax documents, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs and contact information for financial advisers. 

[Creating a Cancer Notebook]

Allow patients to express feelings. Caregivers should make sure patients feel safe and comfortable expressing exactly how they feel, and remind them that there’s no need to be upbeat all the time.

Call a family meeting. Friends and family, regardless of distance, may want to be involved. Caregivers should organize a family meeting, even if it's just by phone, to discuss who will do what. It's important for the patient to be involved, too.

Finally, if outside help is needed, be it a home health aide or hospice worker, caregivers should be honest with patients. Ultimately, patients want to maintain as much independence as they can and, as much as possible, control decisions about their care.

Continue the conversation on CURE’s forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the CURE discussion group.

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