Support and Resources for Patient Care Partners
There’s no question that doctors, nurses, and therapists all play an integral part in the cancer care process, but there is one often overlooked role that is extremely important to every cancer patient: the caregiver. The caregiver is a vital and often very challenging role. If you’re a caregiver, rest assured there are support and resources available to you—you just have to know where to look.
Make your financial plan.
- Your state may have Cash and Counseling programs that pay caregivers for their work. Contact social services, the health department, or your Medicaid office for more information.
- Don’t quit your job just yet—talk to your human resources department about any family medical leave they may provide. Your job may be protected, and you may still receive some pay while you are out of the office, caring for your loved one.
- Ask your human resources department about any assistance programs they may have for employees experiencing hardships.
Practice good communication.
- Make sure to ask the patient about plans around financial care needs. It’s important to know these things because you may need to serve as the voice for your loved one.
- Make a list of answers you can reference. For example, be sure to ask when the patient wants to return to work after treatment, what will be needed for your loved one to do so, who should manage their money, and who should make health care decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so. Practicing good communication in advance can make tough decisions just a little bit easier.
Identify your personal support system.
- Remember, you’re supporting your loved one through cancer, but let your friends and family know what you need, too. You have a big job, and it’s okay to ask for help.
- Confide in someone. You may experience a large amount of pressure or stress during the caregiving process, and whether it’s a therapist, a family member, or friend, it’s important to share your thoughts and feelings.
- Don’t overlook your own needs because of your role as a caregiver. Pay attention to your health. It’s easy to overlook doctor’s appointments or other health care needs when you’re focused on someone else, but make a special effort to be aware of your own needs. Your body will thank you.
- Take a break. If you have a favorite hobby, take time for it. Get a massage, take a walk, or spend time with friends.
Most importantly, know your worth and never underestimate the value of what you provide. Although caregivers may not have a doctor’s salary, they’re incredibly important during every step of the cancer journey.