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House Call: Role of the caregiver for cancer patients

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT
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Welcome back to UHC’s HouseCall on WDTV. Tonight we are continuing our special series on cancer, as we look at the role of the caregiver, which may often feel overwhelming. Joining us is Angy Helmick, nurse navigator at the Cecil B. Highland Jr. and Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center.

1). What is the role of the caregiver for a cancer patient do?

A caregiver for a cancer patient may provide physical, mental, and spiritual care. This care may include assistance with daily needs such as bathing, dressing, shaving, or household chores. Cancer patients may need assistance getting to doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, or going to the grocery store. Medical care such as changing bandages, using a feeding tube, or giving injections may be provided. These needs can change over time as the cancer patient’s health may improve or deteriorate.

2). How involved should a caregiver be in the cancer treatment?

The degree of a caregiver’s involvement should be discussed with the cancer patient and his or her family. The amount of involvement may change over time and is different for everyone.

The Nurse Navigators at the Cecil B. Highland, Jr. & Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center (UHC), want to reassure all caregivers that they are not alone in this journey and there are resources available to them.

3). How does a caregiver know if he or she is doing enough?

The toll of frequent appointments, multiple medications and treatments, and the numerous life changes can isolate not only the patient, but also the caregiver as well.

It is important to ask the patient if their needs are being met. If the answer is yes, then you are doing enough. If the answer is no, ask the patient what they need and how you can help. Good communication is important as a caregiver.

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