When a parent, relative or friend receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, you may quickly find yourself stepping into the role of a hospice caregiver. In recent years, many adults have taken on this role much earlier than anticipated. In some cases, the individual with cancer may not yet be eligible to receive Medicare benefits, potentially putting the caregiver in a difficult place financially as they deal with medical costs. Discover resources to help you prepare and care for your loved one as you step into your new role of caregiver.
Preparing for caregiving
Learn everything you need to know about hospice care with some research and educational opportunities in your community. Know and understand your loved one’s wishes. Programs such as Voice Your Choice can help you have tough but necessary end-of-life conversations. Encourage your loved one to complete an advance directive. This is a legal document that allows someone to speak and make decisions on behalf of someone who is no longer able to do so. Advance care planning can bring peace of mind to both loved ones and caregivers.
Providing care for loved ones with cancer
Cancer is the name given to a group of more than 100 diseases in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably. Not all types of cancer are terminal — many are curable with early detection and treatment. However, a person with cancer may be eligible for hospice care if:
- The cancer is advanced and has spread
- There is significant and unintentional weight loss
- Life expectancy is six months or less
- The cancer has a poor prognosis
As a caregiver of someone living with cancer, you can provide comfort to your loved ones in a variety of ways. This can come in the form of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support. Try to establish morning, afternoon and evening routines and schedules. Enlist the help of others whenever possible to prevent burnout. Know that enhancing the quality of life for a loved one can sometimes be as simple as watching a TV show together, cooking a meal together or visiting a local attraction and making memories.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides many resources for caregivers. Hospice of Southwest Ohio’s respite care services provide short-term care at home or in our Care Center in Cincinnati so that caregivers can take a break or take care of other needs and responsibilities. Additionally, volunteers are available to do household chores, provide companionship and offer support for caregivers. Know that you can call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week with any questions about hospice care at (513) 770-0820.
Caregiving can be challenging but knowing when and how to ask for help can make a world of difference.