November 10, 2014 1:33 pm

November 2014 Cancer Demystified – Caregivers

The month of November has been designated as National Caregiver Month, the month to remember the family and friends that take care of the sick and elderly.  In the United States, 4 out of 10 adults are caring for ill family members. The percentage of caregivers has increased 10% in the last 3 years.  Typically caregivers range in age from 30 to 64, but of course whole families tend to be caregivers of their loved ones.

Dealing with the crisis of cancer in someone you love can be very difficult.  During this stressful time you may worry about the uncertain future that lies ahead, difficult decisions that must be made, financial worries, and changes in lifestyle. Depression is actually very common among caregivers and can impact one’s ability to care for their loved one.  Early signs of depression can include: feeling easily agitated, disturbed sleep, difficulty thinking or concentrating, fatigue or loss of energy, and changes in appetite.

The American Cancer Society provides suggestions for caregivers on how to reduce stress and deal with the caregiving struggles.

  1. Ask for help from other family and friends.
  2. Exercise at least 2 to 3 times a week.
  3. Eat a healthy diet.
  4. At least once a week, give yourself some personal time.
  5. Try to visit socially with other friends.
  6. Ask for help from your medical professionals.
  7. Set priorities and manage your time.  Decide which tasks can wait.

From all of us in the health care field, we would like to thank all the caregivers as they are the first line of defense in the care of our patients.  Those of us at Fort Smith Radiation Oncology could not do what we do without you, so thank you.

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