• For Caregivers

    Being a caregiver is a taxing experience. You are being asked to juggle the needs of your loved one along with those of any additional family members, not to mention attending to your own self-care. Easier said than done, right? Know that you are not alone. Caregivers need just as much support as their loved one dealing with the illness.

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    Taking Care of Yourself

    It is important to be mindful of any changes and signs of acute stress you may be experiencing. These include:

    • Changes in Sleep
    • Changes in Appetite
    • Exhaustion/Fatigue
    • Withdrawing from friends and Family
    • Feeling overly emotional/angry
    • Feelings of overwhelming anxiety

    These are all normal reactions to the situation you are facing. However, if they persist, then it can start to affect your own health. It is important to recognize these signs of acute stress so we can address them before it turns into chronic stress and burnout.

    It is absolutely essential that you take care of yourself. You cannot possibly begin to care for another if you aren’t taking the time to care for yourself. Below are a few things you might want to think about putting into place; start with just one if you are already feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes just having one small thing in place can go a long way towards your sanity and relief.

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    Nutrition and Rest

    It may sound very basic, but you need to eat well and rest when you are able to. This means making sure you eat enough fuel to keep your strength up and rest when you have the opportunity to help with your stamina. Make sure you drink plenty of water. And don’t forget to take a deep breath every once in a while – deep breathing can help with fatigue and anxiety. Make time for you to relax and rejuvenate, even if it is only 15 minutes per day – take the time.

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    Educate Yourself about the Disease

    The more you know, the better you’ll know what to expect and you will feel more in control of the situation. Ask doctors and nurses about your loved one’s condition and what you as a caregiver need to know. The Internet is also a very good way to learn more about your loved one’s disease. The National Brain Tumor Society, The American Brain Tumor Association and The Brain Tumor Foundation are excellent places to start. As you research, write any questions or comments you may have for the doctor and take them to the next appointment.

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    Delegate Tasks to Family and Friends

    You will find friends and family are more than happy to help in time of need. You just need to ask. Things like cooking meals, running errands or cleaning can all be delegated to friends and family. Having someone else pitch in and help you with these tasks will leave you with time to concentrate on providing care for your loved one. If you need help in organizing a “Share the Care” schedule, please contact your social worker.

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    Get Organized

    Many caregivers also are responsible for maintaining medical records, insurance claims, and finances, not to mention medication and eating schedules. The key to success here is organization. Keep medical records neat and accessible by storing them in a large file, organized by date. Medicine schedules can be created with a spreadsheet, and then printed out daily or weekly, or use the blank template of a medication log is included in this binder. As each dose is given, you can check it on the sheet with the time. The same can be done for eating schedules.

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    Join a Caregiver Support Group

    Whether it is online or through the hospital, a caregiver support group is an excellent way to meet others going through the same thing as you. It really does help to have someone who can provide you with tips or can identify with daily caregiving life. The Brain Trust runs an online support group for caregivers. Cancer Lifeline and Gilda’s Club are also great resources for you. They offer a multitude of services, groups and classes for the whole family.

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