Becoming a PCS caregiver for someone with a severe illness such as cancer is an admirable position to take on. These brave patient providers show huge levels of emotional endurance, striving to remain positive in the face of adversity to remain a pillar of positivity for their clients.
The range of work required from a caregiver is extremely broad. Duties can be as simple as sweeping a floor but also include specific tasks such as grocery shopping and balancing checkbooks.
It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of being a caregiver and forget to maintain your peace of mind. Regular maintenance is vital to keep a positive mental element in everyday life.
In the article ahead, we’re going to examine some of the essential duties outlined for a caregiver. We’ll also have support and maintenance tips to help encourage a healthy caregiver lifestyle.
Roles as a Cancer Patient Caregiver
These are some of the more pertinent jobs a caregiver is tasked with each day. However, their duties aren’t limited to these specific tasks.
Feeding Their Patient
Caregivers are given the responsibility of handling their patient’s dietary needs each day. Depending on the doctor’s orders, the caregiver must create a list and prepare each meal and snack-based dietary restrictions.
Many patients have medications and treatments they’ve been prescribed that limit the types of foods they can eat. Typically, the caregiver present during the day will prepare all three meals for the patient ahead of time, usually in week increments.
Dressing Their Patient
Many patients are very fatigued from cancer treatments and need help selecting their wardrobes for the day. A caregiver will assist the patient in selecting their outfit for the day and assisting in any grooming or cosmetic application.
Depending on how late the caregiver stays with the patient, they may also prepare their nightclothes. Some caregivers are on 24-hour shifts, while others may rotate in sets of 10 to 12 hours. Usually, the existing caregiver will ensure everything is prepared for the new provider that takes over the next shift.
Bathing Their Patient
A good majority of patients that require caregivers will also need assistance bathing or showering. Depending on their range of mobility, they may require a seated sponge bath to complete the bathing process.
If a patient has the ability, showers are installed with rails they can use to help with a standing shower. However, the caregiver is always present to ensure the patient doesn’t slip and fall.
It’s common for patients to have busy schedules due to a high number of doctor visits. Caregivers are tasked with scheduling their doctor visits and other personal errands such as post office, grocery, or bank trips.
Schedules can get very hectic for busy patients. It takes a very diligent caregiver with efficient planning skills to formulate a schedule to accommodate their obligations.
Dealing with Insurance
Patients with serious illnesses will need a high level of contact with their insurance company. Proper communication is vital to ensure the insurance company is notified of and handling their business side.
Weekly or monthly contact may be initiated with a live agent or via phone to make sure all the information is correct. These contact obligations may also include corresponding by mail to handle deductible payments and other issues.
Caregivers may also be assigned the job of transporting patients to and from their doctor visits. They will also be responsible for trips to the post office, bank, grocery store, or other personal or business destinations.
In certain medical situations, special transportation companies may be contracted to assist in patient transportation. Regardless of the form of transportation usually, the caregiver is always present.
Cleaning is one of the most crucial tasks a caregiver can be assigned. It’s important the patient feels their home stays neat and orderly to keep them in high spirits.
Caregivers will handle most, if not all, minor and major cleaning duties. This includes dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, bathrooms, and window duties.
Aside from the physical duties, there are mental obligations that come along with the job of being a caregiver.
Ups and Downs of Being a Patient Caregiver
There are mental peaks and valleys involved with being a patient caregiver. It’s important to stay as level as possible to handle this wide range of emotions.
- The job of a caregiver can be rewarding. It’s hard to beat the feeling of helping someone in need. Caring for someone with a serious illness and becoming a friend in a time of need can be a heartwarming, gratifying experience.
- There is a sense of enrichment and satisfaction when it comes to being a caregiver. Performing such a broad range of tasks and completing daily assignments is a great way to give a sense of accomplishment.
- Caregivers get to meet new people daily. This includes family members of the patient and other vital personalities such as doctors, lawyers, and other medical professionals. These contacts can end up being vital at some point in time.
- The position of a caregiver can be frustrating at times. It’s easy for patients to become frustrated when they run into a hurdle. This sense of frustration can easily transfer to the caregiver at any time. It’s important to remain calm for their health and the wellbeing of the patient.
- Caregiving can be a very painful job at times. It’s difficult not to build a personal bond with a patient. Watching a patient suffer through pain can be a difficult scenario to endure.
The constant change in the depth of emotions and swings in moods can be difficult to keep at a minimum. Luckily, there are several ways of self-caring for anyone assigned as a care provider.
How to Take Care of Yourself
Performing some of all these exercises can help with the daily emotional strain of being a caregiver. Try one or two at a time and see what works best for you.
Know Your Boundaries
It’s important not to become too attached or personally involved with a patient. Maintaining boundaries and not allowing yourself to step past a certain point is key in remaining neutral.
You should remain friendly and attentive but remaining neutral is vital. If you feel yourself becoming too personal, take a step or two back and evaluate your mental approach.
Support from Family
Having a supportive family dynamic is essential if you’re a caregiver. Having a good listening ear to vent to can make a world of difference. It’s okay to describe how your day went without divulging personal information about a patient.
Healthy Diet and Exercise
Maintaining a healthy diet is important for mental and physical wellbeing. Plan your meals to include a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Healthy smoothies are another great addition to a healthy diet.
Exercise regularly for physical and mental health benefits. Besides the obvious physical benefits, a normal exercise routine can contribute to a more positive outlook on life.
If you gravitate toward a spiritual element or group, it’s important to make time for this dynamic in your daily life. Having a support group in your community church or a study group in the neighborhood can be a great pillar of strength.
It’s important not to lose yourself in your work. Keep a block of time open during the week or month to dedicate to being social.
Even if this only includes an hour or two with a friend or another couple, it’s important to keep this outlet available. Hobbies or social clubs are another great way to maintain the social element in your life.
Professional Mental Health Support
There’s nothing wrong with relying on the mental health professional. A trained professional can be a good outlet and can also provide other exercises and activities that might help with maintaining a positive balance in life.
Write a Journal
The benefits of keeping a journal should never be underestimated. The ability to vent through writing your thoughts and feelings on pages can be as beneficial as venting to a person.
Keeping a journal allows you to reflect later and track changes in your behavior and mood. Examine your past journal entries every few months and set mental goals for yourself.
Look at the Positives
If all else fails in life, we can always count our blessings. Make a numbered list on a sheet of notebook paper. Create one column with the negatives that affect your life and another column with the positives.
After writing both columns, ninety percent of the time, the positive column will have more items than the negative. This is a great way to remind ourselves of the gifts we have in life.
The duties of a caregiver are very rigorous and time-consuming. Sometimes this daily grind can become overwhelming, even for the most mentally grounded care providers.
It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle regimen outside of caregiving duties. This is important for yourself and the other people in your life, such as family members who rely on you as a source of strength.