Greater Boston Urology Blog

Tips for Caregivers of Cancer Patients

With over 90 million family caregivers in the nation, November’s National Family Caregivers Month is an important way to highlight the challenges and rewards of caring for ill loved ones, particularly those who are undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, bladder cancer, or kidney cancer.

As a way to say “thank you,” we're providing tips for caregivers of cancer patients. It's essential that caregivers maintain their own health and wellness while caring for others.

As with all content on Greater Boston Urology's blog, the following information is educational in nature, not medical advice. Always talk to your physician about your specific health care questions and conditions.

[Editor's note: This article was reviewed and updated on 4/17/21.]

1. Utilize available resources.

Websites like the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) provide individuals with access to free webinars to help navigate healthcare options and learn in-depth care techniques. Downloadable checklists for medication distribution and doctors’ visits will keep appointments and information organized, freeing up more time for caregivers to care for themselves. Support networks are available to exchange information with other caregivers and professionals. To explore available resources, visit CAN’s Family Caregiver Toolbox and begin streamlining the care giving process.

2. Breathe.

Take time out of the day for mental and physical breaks to help center yourself. CAN suggests using the “Magic Window” technique. For a temporary escape, try looking at a natural and serene object when you’re indoors. Tabletop fountains, rock gardens, or fish tanks can have a tranquil effect on the viewer. Meditation techniques such as yoga and deep-breathing can have a positive impact on mental well-being. Pay close attention to your physical health, as well. Incorporate a daily multi-vitamin into a healthy diet, get regular checkups, and stay up-to-date on immunizations. 

3. Recognize signs of depression.

Depression can be spurred by life-changing events such as caring for an ill, disabled, or dying loved one. If you’ve been experiencing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or lack of energy, talk with your doctor. 

4. Re-connect with your loved one.

Running from one doctor’s visit to the next, arranging meals, and keeping track of medications and legal documents can leave you and your loved one void of energy. In between the day-to-day demands, take time to be fully present with your loved one. Play a game together, watch a favorite show, and re-connect.

5. Take time away.

Never feel guilty for taking time away from caregiving. Carving out time for yourself and other family members will only help you to provide better care for your loved one. It’s important to allow yourself time to retreat and rejuvenate. Click here for respite service options.

Above all, remember that you are making a deep and lasting change in the life of another, and while it may not always feel like it, your contributions are felt by your family, friends, and loved ones.  

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