Living with cancer is a challenging time for everyone involved. If you are caring for someone with cancer, it can be difficult to know how to support them through this difficult period. Whether they have just been diagnosed or are in the late stages, we all want to provide the best support possible. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips for providing cancer care to a loved one.
When a loved one has cancer, they often need additional support in their daily life. If you have decided to provide this support, you will count as their carer. Depending on who else is helping and what roles they fulfil, you may also be the primary caregiver.
Becoming a carer is a difficult task. In many cases, it is like taking on a new full-time job, except you will not be paid for it. Much of your time will be dedicated to looking after your loved one’s wellbeing. The duties of a carer include:
As a result, it is important that you feel able to take on the role of primary caregiver. If you do not think you can handle it alone, request support from family or friends.
It is worth noting that the duties you carry out will depend on your loved one’s health. If they are in recovery, you will likely end up doing less than if they are still receiving treatment.
One of the hardest parts of cancer care is receiving the diagnosis. While it’s reassuring to know why your loved one has been unwell, cancer is a frightening condition. You and your loved one will be facing a torrent of emotions, and these will be different depending on the news.
Most cancers are treatable, but some are not. There will be a period of adjustment as you all come to terms with the prognosis. It is important to remember that everyone will deal with this news in their own way. You are allowed to struggle and need time for yourself. If your loved one already has care needs, this may be a good time to consider respite care.
When you are providing homecare for a loved one with cancer, it is important to remember that you are not alone. As well as family and friends, you can also liaise with your loved one’s healthcare team. Let them know that you are providing care for your loved one. You will also be able to discuss your concerns with them. They may be able to provide information that can support you in caring for your loved one.
For example, they may be able to provide guidance for provisions in the home. They will be able to arrange more help if it is needed and signpost you towards online resources or support groups. By identifying you as the primary caregiver, they will also know to contact you for updates.
When your loved one receives a cancer diagnosis, the next priority will likely be how the cancer is going to be treated. Cancer treatment can be a gruelling process, requiring powerful medications or surgery. Both can take time, and there is no guarantee that treatment will be successful the first time around.
Emotional support is invaluable at this time. As the time for treatment approaches, you could consider forming a care hamper for your loved one. This can be topped up over the course of the treatment. Include items that will be beneficial to your loved one’s physical and mental wellbeing.
This could mean blankets, lotions, nutritional snacks, bath bombs, or therapeutic gadgets. Though it is a troubling time, it is important to be optimistic and avoid despair. Rather than focusing on the negatives, a care hamper reassures your loved one that support and love are close at hand.
During cancer treatment – and in recovery – exercise is important for your loved one’s welfare. Fatigue can strike easily, but encouraging movement helps to keep the body strong and reinforces the immune system. Improved immunity is crucial during cancer treatment.
Whilst it is important to understand your loved one’s limits, regular exercise can help to keep them positive and help their body fight the illness. It could be something as simple as going for a walk around the park or doing some yoga in the living room.
Exercising with your loved one will also help them maintain the habit. No one wants to exercise alone, after all. It is an opportunity to motivate each other and keep your bond strong.
A cancer diagnosis can result in many changes. The emotional toll alone can affect appetite and sleep patterns, and treatment may exacerbate these problems. You may feel that you want to maintain a sense of normality.
However, often it is impossible to carry on as things were before. If your loved one cannot work as a result of their illness, they will need ways to fill the time; family outings can become more of a challenge. As your loved one’s carer, you will need to learn their new patterns in order to support them.
Perhaps you will need to start going to bed earlier or eating at different times. You may have to switch up the types of meals you eat. Appointments, too, will affect the activities your loved one can partake in. Adaptability is one of the key traits you can adopt when providing cancer care.
If you are providing cancer care, it is important that you take care of your own wellbeing too. No one is expecting you to be okay all the time. You should always remember that you can ask for help if you need it.
Providing care for a loved one with cancer is difficult. Finances can be tight, emotions are running high, and it can sometimes prove exhausting. When possible, take time to yourself. Meditation can help to combat feelings of negativity. Alternatively, there are charities and helplines you can go to for support.
Contacting Macmillan Cancer Support puts you in touch with people who can offer you advice and support. You can also speak to the information nurses at Cancer Research UK, who can point you towards additional support. For more local solutions, you can speak to your local doctor’s surgery or your loved one’s healthcare team. Finally, you might want to consider respite care.
If you are providing cancer care to a loved one, sometimes you may need additional support. Fortunately, Abing Homecare can provide additional care at home if you need it. We provide a flexible care service tailored to your loved one’s needs.
For households requiring occasional support, a domiciliary carer may be the right option. Domiciliary carers visit at prearranged times to provide support with daily tasks. This could be with medication, continence, or attending appointments. A domiciliary carer can visit as often as you need them. They are also the ideal option for respite care.
If your loved one requires long-term care, however, you may wish to opt for a live-in carer. Instead of visiting at prearranged times, a live-in carer remains at your property. As the name suggests, they will live with your loved one, providing round the clock cancer care. This can provide additional reassurance, especially if your loved one’s condition has triggered other medical problems.
You can find out more about our care services by reading our FAQs. If you would like to arrange care for your loved one, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0800 008 7000, and our customer service team will be happy to help.