Caring for the Carer - Counselling for Caregivers

Posted on:20,Nov'16

Posted by: CancerClinics

Tags: Cancer Awareness

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A caregiver is anyone who plays a direct role in helping a patient manage the disease, side effects or symptoms. In any family, not everyone is the caregiver. The individual who is primarily responsible for the patient is the caregiver.

Owing to the intensity & morbidity of cancer treatment, cancer has a huge emotional impact on caregivers too. If the caregiver is not taken care of, apart from the effect it has on the caregiver’s mental health, the quality of care they provide also gets disturbed.

The problems that the patient faces & those associated with a caregiver are different.

• Change is day-to-day role:
Often, cancer treatment is time consuming and requires regular outpatient visits to the hospitals incase treatment plan includes chemotherapy & radiation. So, this effectively changes the caregiver’s day-to-day routine since it has to be planned around the patients needs outside & within home.

• Part of medical decisions:
Caregivers have to be part of certain treatment-related decision-making, which often puts a lot of pressure on them.

• Financial concerns:
As we have discussed many times in the past, cancer treatment is very expensive. More often, it is the caregiver’s responsibility to make arrangements for the required funds for treatment.

• Physical support to patient:
Sometimes, based on the stage & method of treatment, the patient might need physical support, which is also provided by the caregiver. For example, if the patient is on a wheelchair, carrying the patient from the wheelchair to the bed, everyday, could take a large physical toll on the caregiver.

• Social concerns:
Cancer changes the way one interacts in social situations. Since such a large part of the caregiver’s life revolves around the patient’s cancer, social relationships are affected. They go through questions such as who do I reveal details of the cancer to? Should I tell my neighbours about it?

• Emotional distress:
Caregivers often go through a lot of guilt while looking at the patient going through treatment constantly questioning why they were being put through such hardships.

These could have a huge impact, physically & emotionally on the caregiver. The caregiver could get highly stressed & anxious thereby impacting their day-to-day performance. So, clearly caregivers also need support.

Psychotherapists help them acknowledge their own feelings and need for support. Often with focus on the patient, the caregiver is ignored. A counsellor helps in paying attention to these issues.

Generally, the same psychotherapist could help the patient & the caregiver.

Benefits of counselling for caregivers:

• Quality of care for the patient improves
• Caregivers are able to deal with lifestyle changes better
• In the unfortunate event of the treatment not being successful, counsellors could help deal with issues of depression

If u know someone going through this, do not hesitate to reach out to a counsellor for support.

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