Who Is a Caregiver?

 

Are you helping a loved one get through cancer treatment? If you are, then this booklet is for you. You are a “caregiver.” You may not think of yourself as a caregiver. You may feel you are doing something natural. You are just caring for someone you love. Some caregivers are family members. Others are friends.

 

What does “giving care” mean?

 

Giving care can mean helping with daily needs. These include going to doctor visits, making meals, and picking up medicines. It can also mean helping your loved one cope with feelings. Like when he or she feels sad or angry. Sometimes having someone to talk to is what your loved one needs most. While giving care, it’s normal to put your own needs and feelings aside. But putting your needs aside for a long time is not good for your health. You need to take care of yourself, too. If you don’t, you may not be able to care for others. This is why you need to take good care of you.

 

Your Feelings

 

It’s common to feel stressed and overwhelmed at this time. Like your loved one, you may feel angry, sad, or worried. Try to share your feelings with others who can help you. It can help to talk about how you feel. You could even talk to a counselor or social worker.

 

Understanding your feelings

 

You probably have many feelings as you take care of your loved one. There is no right way for you to feel. Each person is different.

  • Sadness. It’s okay to feel sad. But if it lasts for more than 2 weeks, and it keeps you from doing what you need to do, you may be depressed.
  • Anger. You may be angry at yourself or family members. You may be angry at the person you’re caring for. Know that anger often comes from fear, panic, or stress. Try to look at what is beneath the anger.
  • Grief. You may be feeling a loss of what you value most. This may be your loved one’s health. Or it may be the loss of the day-to-day life you had before the cancer was found. Let yourself grieve these losses.
  • Guilt. Feeling guilty is common, too. You may think you aren’t helping enough. Or you may feel guilty that you are healthy.
  • Loneliness. You can feel lonely, even with lots of people around you. You may feel that no one understands your problems. You may also be spending less time with others.