Self-care for Caregivers

Carers Are Not Alone

It is not unusual to feel guilty about having concerns and worries of your own at a time when your partner, friend or relative is having to deal with lymphoma. But there is no reason for you to feel like this. It is also quite common to feel isolated and alone when you are concentrating on caring for someone who is ill, especially if you cannot maintain the social network you had before your partner, friend or relative became ill. Remember, you are not alone. There are a number of sources of support for caregivers. The patient’s healthcare team and even your family doctor will be able to offer advice. There are also many organizations and support groups both locally and nationally that can offer practical and emotional help. You can even share your story, and read those of patients with lymphoma and their caregivers on this Web site.

The Importance of Self-care

Many caregivers spend so much time and effort looking after the needs of the person with lymphoma that they neglect to look after themselves properly. Sometimes, caregivers may also feel guilty about taking time out for themselves, as if they are letting their friend, relative or partner down. It is important to remember that there is no reason for you to feel guilty about looking after your own health. You cannot possibly give the best care to someone else when you are physically exhausted or emotionally drained.

If you are not well, make sure that you see the doctor, even though it may be tempting to treat your own illness as less important. And make sure that you eat well and get plenty of sleep. Also, spend time with people other than the person you are caring for. Take time out each day to have a break, by going shopping, going for a walk, reading a book or keeping up a hobby or class.

Do not feel you should be doing everything for your partner, relative or friend yourself. If you feel you need extra help, then do not be afraid to ask for it. Remember, other friends or family members may be too shy to offer, and are simply waiting for you to ask. Accepting the help of friends or family could be really valuable to you. For example, you should try and arrange for another friend of the patient, or another member of his or her family, to ’stand in’ for you now and again. This will give you some time for yourself, or time to take a well-earned holiday.