A study from the Journal of of Family Nursing (JFN, 11/1998 Vol.4, Issue 4) provides a glimpse into the life of a cancer caregiver. The study examined caregiver characteristics and needs through a questionaire administered to 750 cancer caregivers who participated in the University of Pennsylvania Family Caregiver Cancer Education Program.
Who are the Caregivers
Are you taking care of a loved one with cancer? You are not alone. More than 1.3 million cases of cancer are diagnosed each year. Studies suggest that at least 50 percent of those diagnosed with cancer will be cared for by someone in their immediate family.
Who are the cancer caregivers?
A Day in the Life of a Caregiver
What don't you do? As a caregiver, you spend your days preparing meals, cleaning, providing transportation, talking to health care providers, administering medication, and making sure their loved one gets everything they need. Cancer caregivers find the time to do it all...everything but take care of themselves.
Consequences of Cancer Caregiving
The journal of Family Nursing detailed the impact of providing care on cancer caregivers' physical, emotional, and financial health. The results are staggering, and indicate that the caregiver needs to take care of his or herself.
- 70% reported taking between 1 and 10 medications per day.
- 62% said their own health had suffered as a result of caregiving.
- 25% reported having significant physical limitations of their own.
- 85% reported that they resented having to provide care.
- 70% said their families were not working well together.
- 54% visited friends and family less since assuming their caregiving role.
- 35% said they were overwhelmed by their caregiving role.
- 97% said their roles were important.
- 81% stated that they wanted to provide care and could not live with themselves if they did not assume caregiving responsibilities.
- 46% reported inadequate financial resources.
- Caregivers frequently missed as many workdays as those patients for whom they were caring, according to a survey conducted by the Fatigue Coalition (a multidisciplinary group of medical practitioners, researchers and Patient advocates), and funded by Ortho Biotech Products, L.P.
The Benefit of Caregiver Support Systems
Evidence shows that community-based education and support for caregivers may help relieve the stresses associated with providing care for a loved one with cancer.
In fact, caregivers who participated in some kind of support program, saw significant increases in the degree to which they felt informed about and confident in their ability to provide care.
If you are a caregiver of a loved one with cancer, be sure to care for yourself. You are too important to suffer stress-related illness.
Additional Caregiver Resources:
- CAN (Caregiver Action Network) www.caregiveraction.org
Through education, support and advocacy the Caregiver Action Network empowers family caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones, and works to remove the barriers that stand in the way of a family caregiver's health and well being.
Cancer doesn’t only affect the person with cancer; it affects the lives of the people who surround them as well. Whether you're a caregiver to your child or partner, a family member or a loved one, LIVESTRONG provides emotional support and other resources for you.
- Family Caregiving 101 www.familycaregiving101.org
Created through a collaborative effort by the NFCA and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), this website contains tips for caregivers including top 10 caregiver questions, steps and checklists by stages of care giving, and links to resources for caregivers.
- Strength for Caring www.strengthforcaring.com
Strength for Caring is an online resource and community that helps family caregivers take care of their loved ones and themselves. Resources include: tips and resources for careing for others and yourself, links to connect with other caregivers, and a resource center with articles, books and brochures related to care giving.
FCA has developed a wide array of services and publications based on caregiver needs and offers programs at local, state and national levels. Often described as a "one-stop shopping center for caregivers," Family Caregiver Alliance programs and services include: newsletters, FAQs, updates on public policy and access to online support groups.
- Caregiver Media Group www.caregiver.com
Caregiver Media Group is a leading provider of information, support and guidance for family and professional caregivers. Resources include Today's Caregiver magazine, a monthly newsletter and links to local support froups.
- Well Spouse Association www.wellspouse.org
Well Spouse is a national non-profit organization which provides support to wives, husbands and partners caring for their ill or disabled loved ones. Resources include support groups, a quarterly newsletter and a comprehensive directory of organizations providing support and resources to caregivers.
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