Care for the Caregiver

Caring for Yourself

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on the person you are caring for that you forget to take care of yourself. You may stop seeing friends, lose sleep, miss meals and feel guilty about doing anything fun. As daily routines are disrupted, you may start to feel a loss of control over your life. It is important to pay attention to your own health and well-being while you care for the person with advanced cancer. Self-care also benefits those around you. It can bring relief to the person that you are caring for to know that you are also caring for yourself. And if you don't, you may burn out and be too tired to help anyone.

Knowing Your Strengths and Limits

Looking back, caregivers sometime say that they did not do enough or they tried to do too much. They wish they had accepted more help sooner. Only after the experience has ended, do they realize how physically and emotionally difficult it was.

You may be coping with other responsibilities work, children, finances and may put yourself last on the list of things to take care of. Often caregivers hide their difficulties and pretend that they can deal with everything. Not taking care of yourself can have a negative effect on your health sleep problems, depression, anxiety and other physical problems can affect long-term health. Be honest with yourself about what you can do. Think about what is most important, and put aside what is not. 

Tips for Looking After Yourself

  • Look after your health. Make time to eat regular meals, get enough sleep and keep up with your own appointments.
  • Make time just for you. Take breaks by exercising, going for a walk, taking a bath, talking to a friend or doing any of the things that have always given you pleasure.
  • Make time for other family members, especially children. Enjoy time together and keep family routines when possible.
  • Try to live in the moment and take things one day at a time rather than thinking about what lies ahead.
  • Consider respite care when you need a break from caregiving. Respite care means the person you are caring for has a short stay in a hospice, palliative care unit or other facility. You can also arrange for someone to come into the home to give you a break.