In English | En español
Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Caring for the Caregiver

  • Posted: 06/29/2007

Page Options

  • Print This Page
  • Print This Document
  • View Entire Document
  • Email This Document
  • View/Print PDF
  • Order Free Copy

Caring for Yourself

Making time for yourself

Taking time for yourself can help you be a better caregiver. That's even more true if you have health problems.

You may want to:

  • Find nice things you can do for yourself. Even just a few minutes can help. You could watch TV, call a friend, work on a hobby, or do anything that you enjoy.
  • Be active. Even light exercise such as walking, stretching, or dancing can make you less tired. Yard work, playing with kids or pets, or working in the garden are helpful, too.
  • Find ways to connect with friends. Are there places you can meet others who are close to you? Or can you chat or get support by phone or email?
  • Give yourself more time off. Ask friends or family members to pitch in. Take time to rest.

Do something for yourself each day. It doesn't matter how small it is.Whatever you do, don't neglect yourself.

Joining a caregiver support group

In a support group for caregivers, people may talk about their feelings and trade advice. Others may just want to listen. You can talk things over with other caregivers. This could give you some ideas for coping. It may also help you know you aren't alone.

In many cities, support groups are held in other languages besides English. There are also groups that meet over the Internet. Ask a nurse or a social worker to help you find a support group that meets your needs.

Caring for your body

You may feel too busy to think about your own health. But taking care of your body gives you strength. Then you can take care of someone else.

Keep up with your own health needs. Try to:

  • Go to all your checkups
  • Take your medicines
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Get enough rest
  • Exercise
  • Make time to relax

Did you have health problems before you became a caregiver? If so, now it's even more important to take care of yourself. Also, adding extra stressors to your life can cause new health problems. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any new changes in your body.

Finding meaning during cancer

Cancer causes many caregivers to look at life in new ways. They think about the purpose of life. And they often focus on what they value most.

You and your loved one may question why cancer has come into your lives. You may long for things to be like they were before the disease. But you may also see good things that come out of it, such as it bringing you closer. It's normal to see illness in both good and bad ways.

Cancer can affect one's faith in different ways. Some people turn toward their beliefs. Others turn away from them. It is common to question your faith during this time. For some, looking for meaning is a way to cope.

Some ways to find meaning are:

  • Read or listen to uplifting materials.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Talk with a priest, pastor, or spiritual leader.
  • Go to religious or spiritual services.
  • Talk to other caregivers.
  • Look at books or brochures for people dealing with cancer. Ask for them at your place of worship. Also, check at libraries for these materials.