Tips to Caregivers of Newly-Diagnosed Loved Ones
We insist that the men in our lives maintain and stay abreast of their health by visiting the doctor yearly for checkups. The next visit they go to, they could be greeted with lab results that state that they have prostate cancer.
A cancer diagnosis is never easy to digest for a patient, nor their family. The dynamics of the family shift in ways unimaginable. Each person relies on another for different things, whether it be emotional, physical, mental, or financial support. Each person serves the family in a new capacity.
Tips for new caregivers
One of the most common positions is of the caregiver. A caregiver position is the one job you don’t apply for but are hired on the spot, while you learn through on-the-job training. There are a few things to consider when you are taking on the caregiver role for a newly-diagnosed loved one (I was a caregiver to my father after his prostate cancer diagnosis).
Embrace the differing emotions you feel along the way
Emotions are a natural, instinctive state of mind, deriving from one’s circumstances, their mood, or relationships with others. Each emotion you feel is justified, simply because it is your natural instinct. Society is not allowed to put a cap on your emotions. Emotions that are swept under the rug can cause bigger recurring issues later.
Document and modify everything
Maintain a journal for doctors’ appointments. List medications, dosage, and schedules. It is also good to have scriptures, positive affirmations, or poems that can be used to uplift and motivate on those days that may not be as good as the others. Prepare to modify your home, whether your loved one needs a bedrail, shower stool, alert button, or intercom system.
Keep the lines of communication open
Communication can be defined as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. After doctors present the information, it is important that you and your loved one are on the same page as to moving forward with care. A large part of communicating is understanding what is being communicated.
Look at the facts that are presented
Doctors and physicians at hospitals and offices present patients with information on a regular basis. The information they present is based on science and their experience.
Our job as a patient and a loved one of the patient is to take the information and the facts that are presented from the doctors and physicians and sift through it to make the best decision. Oftentimes we may add, create, or erase information that the doctors and physicians are actually giving and create a false sense of what’s really going on with our loved one.
Join a support group
Submerge yourself in a community specific to the illness you are caring for. The community sheds light on options that you may not be aware of that exist. Support groups also give you the room to vent and voice your feelings with people who may be going through the same things you are.
Build in self care
Caregivers tend to give and give until you are empty. There’s an old saying that states, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It still holds true today.
Self care is the best care you can give your loved one. When you are your best self, you can provide the best you to your loved one. Take time to yourself to think, recharge, reflect, and decompress with your daily responsibilities. Read a book, get your nails done, eat a bowl of ice cream, take a hot bubble bath, drink a cup of coffee, or just sit in the dark and take a nap.
It may be difficult to get self care in, however you cannot be the best caregiver without taking care of yourself.
Caregiving is not an easy task
All in all, the caregiving journey is not an easy task, and you may have never seen it coming. Utilize your resources to help offer better care for your loved one, your family, and yourself as a caregiver.
At what age were you diagnosed with prostate cancer?