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Helping Cancer Caregivers Help Themselves
Loved ones must find time to address their own needs in order help others, social workers advise

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

WEDNESDAY, March 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When people are diagnosed with cancer, it's easy to overlook the toll the disease also takes on their caregivers, say social workers who specialize in cancer care.

Cancer can dramatically alter relationships, forcing parents to depend on their children, or independent people to rely on loved ones. Meanwhile, those who support cancer patients -- such as spouses, partners, siblings, children or friends -- tend to put their own needs on the back burner.

Caregivers who keep their mind and body healthy, however, are able to provide better care for their loved ones, advise Lauren Kriegel and Autumn Banta, oncology social workers at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Finding the time and energy to take care of yourself may seem difficult while caring for someone with cancer, Kriegel and Banta pointed out in a Rutgers news release.

However, there are ways caregivers can also take care of themselves without having to spend a lot of time or money. The social workers make the following suggestions:

  • Don't feel guilty. It's normal to feel badly about doing something for yourself if your loved one is coping with cancer. It's important to identify and share these feelings in a safe place, but don't let them prevent you from addressing your own needs. You can't help someone else if your levels of energy and patience are low.
  • Make a happy list. Write down some of the things that help you feel joy, such as playing a good song, going for a walk or taking a bubble bath. Be sure to carve out a bit of time to do these things.
  • Relax. Find ways to stay relaxed and calm. It's important to maintain healthy sleep habits. Staying relaxed may also require some breathing exercises, guided imagery or meditation. There are apps you can download to help guide you through this process.
  • Don't be hard on yourself. It's important to show compassion towards others but it's equally important to give yourself a break. Caregivers often feel stress. Be sure to recognize this and take small steps to help you ease this strain.
  • Ask for help. Reach out to an oncology social worker. This is a professional who can devise a personalized plan to help you cope with your role as a caregiver.

More information

The American Cancer Society provides more support for caregivers.

SOURCE: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, news release, March 2, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=720359

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
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The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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