Tips for Caregivers

Cancer Patient Caregivers

As a cancer caregiver, you play an invaluable role.

We understand how important you are to the treatment experience of your friend or loved one. We want you to know that throughout the entire process, we are here for you, too.

As a cancer caregiver, you play an invaluable role.

We understand how important you are to the treatment experience of your friend or loved one. We want you to know that throughout the entire process, we are here for you, too.

What can you do to help?

Start by setting up a schedule

The first thing to do is to put together a schedule that shows when you will need to accompany your friend or loved one to and from appointments.

Create a contact list with your phone numbers and e-mail information as well as that of any secondary caregivers so that it is all in one place and easy to read. If the patient has a cell phone, make sure your numbers are entered in its Contacts listing.

It is also important to give your contact information to the 21st Century Oncology Treatment Team – especially to the Nurse who is primarily responsible for coordinating care.

Become an extra set of eyes and ears

Going through radiation treatment involves a lot of detailed information. There are appointments to keep, prescriptions to fill and instructions to follow along the way. As an extra set of eyes and ears, you can help keep it all straight.

  • Learn what you can about your friend or loved one’s particular form of cancer. This will help you understand how the disease behaves, why radiation was chosen as an effective therapy and the overall treatment process
  • Go to appointments and treatments with your friend or loved one whenever you can. Bring along a pen and pad and take notes. That way, if there is confusion over anything said during the appointment, you have something to refer back to
  • Keep a pad of paper or a word document on your computer just for questions. Write them down as they come up so you do not forget to ask them. Remember, there is no such thing as a silly or embarrassing question
Living with Esophageal Cancer

Keep both your spirits up.

It is natural to go through emotional ups and downs during treatment. Doing what you can to help the patient stay positive is very important, not only for their emotional well-being, but because they will be more likely to follow instructions, eat well and better manage any potential side effects. Here are some simple cancer tips about what you can do to provide emotional support.

  • Keep life as normal as possible. This means helping your friend or loved one stick to their daily routine such as getting up and going to work, doing the shopping, taking the dog for a walk, seeing family and meeting up with friends. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call, a nudge from you, to get them going.
  • Plan some distractions. It is common for patients to become depressed when they are alone and have nothing to distract them from their illness. Plan a weekly movie night – even if you bring the movie to their house – or a visit to a local museum or to a favorite store. If your friend or loved one has grandchildren, arrange for a visit or offer to take them to a grandchild’s school concert or sporting event. Even a half hour of distraction can make a big difference.
  • Keep yourself emotionally healthy, too. Providing support to someone going through cancer treatment is a true gift that they will always treasure. But it can take its toll on you. There are online support groups sponsored by national and regional health organizations that provide tips on how to best provide support while keeping your own spirits up and positive.
Living with Esophageal Cancer

Organize paperwork and insurance information

Dealing with paperwork and insurance claims is a common cause of anxiety. By lending a hand and helping to organize treatment documentation and insurance information, you can reduce a lot of worry and stress.

  • Start by setting up two sets of folders for different kinds of paperwork, one set for you and one for your friend or loved one
  • We suggest one folder for Treatment Documentation and Instructions; one for information on Prescriptions and Medication; one for Insurance paperwork; and a Miscellaneous folder for any additional documents. Then, on the inside cover of each folder, write down the contact information for relevant personnel
  • When you go to treatments together, make a copy of every document so you each have one and then file it in the appropriate folder
  • Ask your friend or loved one for the name of their insurance provider and make a copy of their insurance card. Be sure they bring the card to every appointment (and bring your copy in case they forget)
  • Every 21st Century Oncology location has an Office Financial Counselor ready to help file insurance claims, determine what is covered, and make sure the right referrals and forms for reimbursement are filled out. Introduce yourself on your first visit and write our office financial manager’s name and contact information on the Insurance folder for quick reference. Your friend or loved one will be asked to signed a privacy waiver to comply with HIPAA Guidelines, if you are handling personal health information

Additional resources for cancer caregivers

Three particularly helpful resources for caregivers are:

doctor and patient

Remember, we are all on the same team

At 21st Century Oncology, we understand just how much responsibility cancer patient caregivers must deal with on a daily basis. It goes without saying that you will have to balance these new responsibilities with the rest of your life. Be prepared to give yourself breaks during the treatment so you can recharge your own batteries. If possible, see if there is someone else who will cover for you in case you need backup.

Call us, e-mail us, lean on us whenever you need to. No question is too small. Every caregiver is treated with respect and professionalism. We would not have it any other way.

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