Caring for someone with cancer can be hard. As a caregiver, you are at increased risk of emotional, mental, and physical problems. You may feel stress, anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue, loneliness, and uncertainty. Some caregivers find it difficult to ask for help. You may feel embarrassed or like you’re imposing on others. But getting caregiver help is important—for both for you and the person you are caring for.
There are lots of ways people can help caregivers. Ask them to:
- Spend time with the patient so you have time to take care of yourself.
- Give you a chance to talk through any feelings you have of anger, anxiety, sadness, fatigue, fear, and loneliness.
- Help you find help if you’re struggling with stress, overload, substance abuse or other issues.
- Spend time with your family, and get you out of the house (if possible).
- Have a positive attitude. It is catching!
Daily chores & activities
- Shop for groceries, medications and other things.
- Prepare meals for your family or help you plan meals.
- Keep track of the patient’s medications and refills.
- Help with yard work, dishes, laundry and other household chores
- Help with transportation, including driving or organizing rides.
- Walk or feed your pet.
- Exercise with you—even if it’s just a short walk.
- Help sort and pay bills.
- Keep other family and friends in the loop.
- Help you make a list of questions for the patient’s healthcare providers.
- Organize a family meeting.
- Take the lead in writing and sharing the caregiver help plan and/or keeping it up-to-date.
- Help with insurance, including figuring out coverage, getting any needed pre-approvals for treatment, keeping track of payments, reimbursement and communications.
- Research any prescription assistance and other aid programs.
- Help you research treatment options and understand what to expect.
- Prepare a travel pack for the patient to take to treatment.
- Make sure the patient’s home is safe.
It is never too early to ask for help. If you can, ask before you need it. This has the added benefit of giving others time to plan.
Start by asking the person you’re taking care of to help you make a list of friends, family and anyone else who might lend a hand. Don’t overlook people you may not know well. People at your church, school or work may want to help. Next, call the people on your list, and ask if they are willing to pitch in. Even if you don’t end up needing their help, it will be good to know it’s there just in case.
Remember that many people do want to help, but don’t know what they can do. Tell them exactly what you’d like. For example, “Can you take Joe for a lab draw on Monday morning before 9am?”