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Six tips for caregivers of cancer patients


Many cancer patients receive much of their necessary care at home, rather than in a hospital. In most cases, the caregiver is a family member or close person who takes on several daily responsibilities, both medical and non-medical. Being a caregiver of a cancer patient is challenging. Therefore, it is necessary to address this stage honestly and safely. 

The work of the caregiver may vary depending on the stage of the patient’s cancer. At the start of treatment, for example, their role will be to provide emotional support. As the disease develops, the caregiver assumes daily tasks such as helping with personal hygiene, accompanying him or her to hospital visits and even taking care of any administrative tasks and paperwork. 

In any case, certain things are common to all caregivers, regardless of the patient’s condition. In this post, we want to share some tips to help caregivers provide the best possible care to the patient, and to not forget that they also need to care for themselves. 

  1. Don’t guess, ask. The caregiver should not go overboard giving advice or recommendations. Instead, the caregiver should always be aware of what the patient needs, and this is only possible through good communication. It is likely that the caregiver considers certain things to be essential even though the patient does not agree, and vice versa. A good caregiver should listen and ask questions. 
  2. Know what resources are available. It is essential to look into and register for coverage under the Personal Autonomy and Care of Dependents Act, particularly if home medical care, specific resources for the home, etc. are required. And, in the case of the caregiver, there is the possibility of requesting a leave of absence of up to two years, which can also be requested intermittently according to the needs of the patient.
  3. Be honest. A climate of trust and confidence must be created between the caregiver and the patient, so that both can share their thoughts, talk about things unrelated to the disease and feel part of a relationship of equals. This relationship helps reduce the moments of stress, loneliness and anxiety you both may face. Along these same lines, it is important not to conceal any information or bad news since this may cause mistrust and resentment. 
  4. Ask for help when you need it. A good caregiver should be aware of their limitations, and when they reach that limit, should ask for help. With this attitude, the pressure and feeling of dependence that can come with certain situations will be lifted.
  5. Promote patient autonomy. Sometimes caregivers forget that their loved one might still have some autonomy despite their circumstances. Tasks such as choosing the clothes they want to wear, what they want to eat, what movie they want to watch, etc. are actions that help normalize the situation. Plus, this will help the patient feel somewhat in control of their own life.
  6. Don’t forget about yourself. The cancer process not only has an effect on the person who has the disease. It also impacts their relatives, friends and especially their caregivers. Do not forget about your own self-care. Self-care allows you to boost your own mood and care for the patient optimally. Try ro do this:
    • Do activities that allow you to disconnect during your free time, such as hanging out with a friend, exercising or taking a walk. 
    • Get as much rest as you need. Remember to stay active. 
    • Stay up-to-date on the news. Read the newspaper while eating breakfast or watch the news after eating, so your mind will be active. 
    • Stay alert to signs or symptoms of exhaustion, stress or deep sadness, and see a professional who can help you.

Source: Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer,

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