Caregiver Topic: Fatigue
When one is diagnosed with cancer, we often designate someone to be our caregiver. This can be a partner, child, parent, friend, or sibling. When I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, I feel like I had a team step up to be my caregivers. My twin sister basically dropped what she was doing as a travel nurse to come home to help with my needs. She helped coordinate doctors’ appointments and, in those appointments, she helped decipher the medical jargon. Her role as a caregiver has changed over the years but in the beginning, she did things for herself to prevent caregiver fatigue also referred to as caregiver burnout. Here are a few tips from her.
Tips on how to prevent caregiver fatigue
The most important thing that a caregiver can do for themselves is to decipher tasks that can be delegated. This can be anything from having someone help with meals to getting help with transportation. Delegating task ensures that not one person is responsible for all of the cancer-related tasks. Often the caregiver feels that they must step up and do everything and this is just not the case. To keep the caregiver in an appropriate state of mind that will allow them to take care of the patient they need to delegate tasks. We found that writing down what needed to be done such as when prescriptions needed to be filled/ picked up or anything to do with doctors’ appointments that it was much easier for us to get things done. For me, my sister delegated tasks to our parents and even my husband.
It is easy for a caregiver to forget to take care of themselves. You need to remember that you also will have doctors’ appointments even if just going to the dentist, eye doctor, and other routine appointments. Everyday things need to be addressed such as exercising, proper meal intake, and rest. If the patient is in high need you may need to bring in outside professional help. By doing so you are taking care of your needs.
Mental health regarding the caregiver as well as the patient. The caregiver should make sure that the patient is getting the appropriate help, but they also need to make sure that they themselves are in a proper mental state. Cancer is a very tough subject for us to deal with as humans. It is often something that is not expected and the diagnosis itself comes out of the blue. I know for me I always thought that if I didn’t smoke, I would never get lung cancer, especially as a young adult. All you need is lungs to get lung cancer. I have found that speaking with someone outside the family has been extremely helpful in processing these tough emotions. This can go for both the patient as well as the caregiver.
Suggestions for future topics
I would like to speak more with my sister, mother, father, or husband in the future for other caregiver articles. If you have any suggestions for topics, please leave them in the comments.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?