What It Takes to Be a Caregiver

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When others want to help

Although caring for someone with cancer can be fulfilling, it can also be demanding and stressful. Good communication can help you work through tough times, but almost always there is just too much for one person to do. Asking for help or allowing others to help can take some of the pressure off and allow you time to take care of yourself. Often family and friends want to help but may not know how or what you need. Here are some tips for including family and friends:

  • Look for areas where you need help. Make a list or note them on a calendar.
  • Hold regular family conferences to keep everyone involved. Use these meetings as updates and care-planning sessions. Include the patient.
  • Ask family and friends when they can help and what jobs they think they can do. You may also contact a person with a certain request. Be very clear about what you need.
  • As you hear back from each person, note it on your list to make sure they have taken care of what you needed.

There are many online resources that can help you manage your job as caregiver, such as the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network, the Cancer Support Community, and others listed in the “National organizations and Web sites” section of “To learn more about caregiving and coping”. These offer support for people caring for a loved one who has cancer. Some sites also offer other features, such as group calendars to organize helpers and areas to create personal Web sites that concerned people can access for updates. Examples of these are caringbridge.org, lotsahelpinghands.com, and thepatientpartnerproject.org. Taking full advantage of the resources available to you is another way you can take care of yourself.


Last Medical Review: 02/14/2012
Last Revised: 03/23/2012