When you found out your senior has cancer, the first thing that came to mind was likely what could you do for them. This is a wonderful, nurturing instinct, and this is what will carry you through as their family caregiver, but it is not the only thing that should be on your mind.
You must also think about what you need to do for yourself as you care for them. Continuing to take care of yourself keeps you strong and healthy, preserves your quality of life, and helps you to be the best caregiver possible for your parent. It also allows you to continue to be there for the others in your life who rely on you, such as your partner and your children.
Some things you need to do for yourself as a family caregiver for a senior with cancer include:
Get high quality sleep. It may seem impossible to think about trying to get a full night’s sleep every day, but it is essential. Sleep is what gives your body and mind energy, your thoughts clarity, and your body a chance to heal and recuperate. When you are without enough sleep, you can’t be your best. Focus on getting enough sleep and make the changes to your schedule and routine to make it happen.
Eat well. Don’t try to save time out of your schedule by relying on convenience foods, drive-thrus, and prepackaged snacks to help you through. Instead, focus on good nutrition that will give you sustainable energy, support your immune system, and keep you feeling your best. Pack your own balanced snacks, meal plan, cook meals to freeze, and treat your body well.
Get emotional support. A support group, a therapist, and other sources of support will help you to avoid the potentially serious consequences of mental and emotional health issues such as depression, anxiety, and burnout.
Find reliable help. You can’t do this completely on your own. Find as many sources of help you can get to ensure your senior’s needs are met while not overextending yourself. This help can come in many forms, including friends, family, neighbors, and medical specialists. A home care provider is a valuable addition to this care network, offering personalized, dedicated care to manage their needs in the most effective and meaningful ways.
If you find yourself overwhelmed and need time away from your care efforts, or you are dealing with a situation that keeps you from caring for your parent, such as an illness, respite home care can help. A respite in-home senior care services provider can step in when you need it to provide temporary care for your senior. This caregiver will follow your usual routine as much as possible so you can feel confident your parent is getting the consistent care they need until you are able to return.