Emotional support you'll need to care for someone with cancer
Once the initial crisis has passed, family and friends often lose touch with the person's overall condition. That can leave both you and him feeling isolated. To avoid this, ask friends and family to:
- Send notes, cards, and e-mails to help keep his spirits up.
- Invite him to social events such as dinners out, cultural events, and picnics.
- Alert him to meetings of groups (clubs, committees, organizations) he and they belong to, and if they attend meetings he can't make, fill him in on what happened.
- Take charge of an e-mail network or Yahoo group to let friends, colleagues, and neighbors know how the person you're caring for is doing and to keep him up-to-date on everyone else's activities.
Support for you, the primary caregiver
No matter how dedicated you are, you can't be there for your friend or relative all the time, and you shouldn’t have to be. You need to attend to your own life as well, and caregiver burnout is a real danger if you don’t make time for some rest and relaxation for yourself. Some ways friends and family can provide respite:
- Take him to a movie or out to dinner.
- Be "on call" for a day or night to handle everything but a dire emergency.
- Stay with him for an evening while you go to a movie or out to dinner.
- Sit with him for an afternoon while you go for a walk.
- Move in with him for a weekend while you get away with your partner or spouse.
- Take your children to the movies or on other outings if they're not getting enough attention.
- Drive your children to school so you can sleep in.
Remember, no task is too big or too small for someone else to take on when your hands are full. Your job is to care for your loved one, and it can only be done successfully with lots of delegating. Think of yourself as the captain of a ship; your mission is to keep the ship afloat and heading in the right direction, and you’re going to need plenty of crew to do it. And like any good captain, you need to show your crew how much you appreciate their work -- just tell them now and then how much it means to you.