Ten Ways to Care for the Caregiver

FOCUS on Oncology
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Cancer is a twenty-four hour affair. As with other long term illnesses, you may become emotionally drained as you care for your child and worry anout the changes that may occur in him or her. But your child's well-being depends directly on your well-being. You can take care of yourself by:

  • Arrange for planned time away from the the task of twenty-four hour care. Do things just for you!

  • Share your problem with anyone who will listen. There is a lot of benefit from talking with other parents or someone who is familiar with illness.

  • Avoid isolation, as it may lead to depression. Invite a neighbor or friend to the hospital or join a club. DO NOT cut off ties to non-cancer related activities because "you don't have time."

  • Find additional help in caring for the patient, which can mean home care in helping you care for the patient and help with chores around the house.

  • Obtain legal counsel to address financial concerns.

  • Visit the doctor yourself, regularly. Being assertive in getting the information that you need for the patient. You may wish to bring along a list of questions to ask the physician. Don't leave until you have received understandable answers you feel confident to share with others. You should enter these questions & answers (suitably dated with their occurrence) in your diary of patient care.

  • Take time off. A well-deserved and needed vacation should take place with the whole family.

  • Include the patient (particularly a child) in daily activities, even if all they can do is watch.

  • Talk with other families and members in a support group.

  • Stay positive and remember life is precious.