Family Caregiver Support Involving Other Family Members

According to the National Cancer Institute (2007), many people who were caregivers in the past now realize that they tried to do too much on their own. If you’ve been caring for a relative with cancer by yourself for a long time, your family members may not realize how much you need caregiver support. You may even be reluctant to seek help from other family caregivers.

Benefits of Family Caregiver Support

Some caregivers are unwilling to ask for help because they feel a sense of obligation to their loved one. They may fear what family members will think if they can’t do it all on their own. Other caregivers feel selfish about taking time to enjoy themselves when a loved one is suffering.

Enlisting the help of other family caregivers is beneficial to you because it gives you time to rest and take care of your own needs. When you take care of yourself, you have more energy to provide your loved one with quality care. Also, other family members have useful skills that you lack.

Getting Family Caregiver Support

As the primary caregiver, you have the best understanding of what the patient’s needs are. Develop a plan of action for involving other family caregivers in meeting these needs, including:

  • List needs in order of priority. Make a list of all your loved one’s needs, no matter how small.
  • Determine which of these needs you can meet and which ones other family caregivers can meet. Start the sorting process by deciding which tasks are the most inconvenient. For example, picking up a prescription across town may use up too much of the time you’ve set aside for running errands.
  • Consider your own needs. If meeting your loved one’s needs means that you don’t have time to perform tasks around the house, you can add some of your own needs to the list. For example, a family member who isn’t comfortable providing bedside care may be willing to cut your grass or run errands so that you have more time for primary care tasks.
  • Identify family members who can help. Take the abilities and schedules of other family members into account.

Tips for Talking to Family Members

Once you’ve determined what areas you need help with, you can ask your family members for caregiver support. Approach each family member individually and have in mind some tasks each one could help with. Alternatively, you can ask family members what they’d like to help with, but don’t be afraid to politely let them know if their suggestions are not covering the areas in which you really need help.

Family members who are willing to help but don’t have the time could help pay for professional respite care or home health services.

Resources

International Myeloma Foundation. (2002). Now you are a caregiver. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://myeloma.org/IndexPage.action?tabId=1&menuId=0&indexPageId= 39&parentLinkId=507&categoryId=0&gParentType=nugget&gParentId=12 &parentIndexPageId=5&parentCategoryId=29

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2010). Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caregiver-stress/MY01231

National Cancer Institute. (2007). Caring for the caregiver. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/caring-for-the-caregiver