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Reply to "Help for Carers"

A Day in the Life of a Caregiver
By Phyddy Tacchi on June 18, 2009
"I feel responsible for absolutely everything. I always think I should be leading the patient to do the right thing. I feel I'm becoming such a nag."

Life can change with just one phone call. When the words "your loved one has cancer" are heard, life changes forever for the caregiver. That moment of first hearing the news will likely live on in your memory. Suddenly, life as you knew it is gone. A whole new expansive set of responsibilities appears seemingly overnight and invades every facet of daily life, as you can see from the list below.

What new responsibilities do you now have?
Practical Responsibilities
__Handling finances, working with insurance company, handling legal matters
__Providing for child care, meals
__Taking care of the home, often from a distance, such as paying bills, cleaning, yard, mail, etc.
__Time management

__Managing family relationships
__Managing other relationships, including friends, church, etc.
__Continuing with school and work tasks

__Coming to an understanding of the meaning of your life and death issues
__Tolerating suffering while yearning for control
__Maintaining hope in the face of uncertainty

__Becoming aware of and managing anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and loneliness
__Learning new communication skills, including with the treatment team and your patient, who may be irritable
__Learning a different skill set of listening and coping skills

__Becoming organized as the record keeper, including research on disease facts
__Tracking and organizing medications
__Scheduling for tests and treatments
__Working with the medical staff, other services, and coordinating appointments and schedules
__Seeking and finding help from others
__Providing transportation to and from appointments, errands, etc.
__Receiving medical training for at-home procedures

__Keeping up a feeling of confidence
__Maintaining a sense of self-worth during a time of great demands and stress
__Establishing and maintaining an overall feeling of competence

How many did you check? Are there additional things that you do that aren't on this list? Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, this scope of things to do can feel overwhelming and at times, exhausting. How do you handle this level of stress?

As I'll continue to mention in future caregiver posts, it's vital that you keep a toe in the water of the so-called normal, healthy world. It's so important to take care of yourself, but we'll discuss that at another time.