You love your aging parent, and finding out they are living with cancer is likely shocking and unexpected.
When you’re faced with this type of news, you have to take the time to let this reality sink in, and allow your emotions to clarify themselves so you can manage them. You may be surprised at your initial reaction to finding out your senior has cancer, or even to suddenly become a caregiver when you didn’t expect to be.
It might even seem easy, or like it isn’t having much of an impact on you. Soon, though, the reality will sink in, and the impact will become more obvious. Preparing yourself for this emotional impact can help you to cope with it more effectively, and focus on being the best caregiver you can be while also protecting your parent-child relationship with your loved one.
Some ways you can prepare yourself for the emotional impact of being a family caregiver for a senior with cancer include:
-Know it’s going to be difficult, and be willing to accept that. Simply because caring for your senior is hard doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it, or that you won’t do well with it. Accepting the fact that being a caregiver is challenging and that you will experience difficult things makes it less shocking and easier to work through.
-Give yourself permission to feel things such as pain, sadness, reluctance, and frustration. It’s easy to feel guilty when you feel these things while caring for a senior who is severely ill, but it’s important to realize that these feelings are normal and expected. Giving yourself permission to feel them and relieving your stress and guilt is an important step in releasing stress.
-Set up your support system before the emotional impact becomes too much. Having support is a critical part of managing challenging emotions and preserving your mental and emotional health and well-being as a family caregiver. The support system can include a support group, a therapist, friends and family, and others.
-Be ready to accept help in as many ways as possible. This could be as simple as a neighbor who can come sit with your parent so they aren’t alone, all the way up to professional home care. This relieves stress and helps you to feel more confident your parent is getting everything they need
It’s important not to overlook yourself when you are a family caregiver.
Ignoring your own needs can result in excessive stress, burnout, health consequences, and more. Home care can make it easier for you to take care of yourself while you also take care of your parent.
An in-home senior care services provider can step in to manage specific care tasks so you can take more time to get the rest, stress relief, and support you need to stay at your best. These services can include transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, assistance running errands, meal and snack preparation, medication reminders, help with personal care tasks such as bathing, companionship, and more.