Thank You for Caregiving: Tips for New Cancer Caregivers
Healtheo360’s David Duplay shares his insight and tips on caregiving.
Your loved one visits the doctor and hears the words “you have breast cancer.” In addition to hearing a lot of new medical information and having to make decisions about her care, your loved one is likely feeling overwhelmed about practice concerns – everything from treatment and health insurance, to workplace concerns, grocery shopping and household duties.
You may immediately step into the caregiving role to help support your loved one through her diagnosis and treatment. But where do you begin? What are the best tips to approaching the caregiver role?
As National Family Caregivers Month comes to a close, Dave Duplay, founder and CEO of healtheo360, shares his top four strategies for being the best caregiver you can be.
Dave has an extensive background in caregiving; his sister-in-law, Lisa (pictured left), was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer (she currently has no evidence of disease) and his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to taking on the role of caregiver, Dave supported his brother and father, and after noting gaps in support groups and resources, started healtheo360, the online “Caring Community” that connects patients and caregivers with people with whom they can relate as well as access the support they deserve.
Here are Dave’s tips for anyone new to the role of caregiver for someone diagnosed with cancer or a chronic condition:
First and Foremost, Take Good Care of Yourself
“Caregiving can be such a daunting task,” Dave says. “In order to be good caregivers, caregivers really need to practice taking care of themselves.”
Dave recommends eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods like whole fruits and vegetables to help boost immunity and mood. Adopt an exercise routine to get moving and help manage stress. Get plenty of sleep so that you’re rested and ready to take on each and every day.
“Make sure you’re getting the mental, emotional and physical recharges you need so you don’t feel overwhelmed,” he adds.
Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help
The daily routine of caregiving can be so much for one person to manage. There’s no training to be a caregiver and oftentimes spouses, friends and family of loved ones diagnosed with a disease fall into the role.
Dave suggests asking for help, especially to help manage caregiver burnout. Reach out to close family and friends and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
“You cannot always fight the fight alone,” Dave says.
Don’t Forget About the Other People You Care For
The term “sandwich generation” refers to people who have reached a certain age (typically 30s and 40s) and are responsible for not only caring for their children but also their aging parents.
Caregiving duties can absorb much of your time. If you’re in the sandwich generation, the demands of caregiving may make it difficult to juggle caring for older parents or young children.
Again, ask for help when you need it. Dave also suggests communicating with the people for whom you are responsible, so they understand the pressures you’re facing and don’t feel neglected.
“It helps them feel like you haven’t forgotten them,” Dave says. “It makes them aware of the challenges you face as a caregiver.”
Connect With Others Like You
You can learn from and exchange ideas and suggestions with other caregivers. Find a support group or a way to connect with other caregivers. Connect with Living Beyond Breast Cancer or healtheo360.com, visit the Family Caregiver Alliance and Caring.com websites, or ask friends and family for recommendations to get connected.
“Many times, caregivers feel isolated and alone,” Dave says. “There’s an emotional benefit to knowing you’re not alone, listening to others’ stories and sharing your own.”
Learn about healtheo360.com and how you can share your breast cancer story and connection with others.