Improving the Mental and Physical Health of the Family Caregiver
Family caregivers are at risk for mental and physical
problems of their own
Caregiver fatigue, stress, physical limitations, and time
constraints can contribute to increased vulnerability to illness
Look at past coping patterns. What are the strengths that
the caregiver has drawn on in the past? What strengths can you help
the caregiver to identify in the current situation? Has the caregiver
used dysfunctional behaviors to cope with stressors in the past?
Review past and current medical history of caregivers. Be
alert to changes or omissions in the caregiver's present routine that
have arisen as a result of their caregiving duties
Assess other current stressors (job, family, finances etc.).
Make referrals to social service, to outside agencies, and to other
health care professionals.
Stress management techniques
Progressive muscle relaxation
Distraction (music, humor, prayer)
Help caregivers to be deliberate and conscious about how they
will take care of themselves. Ask them "How will you do it... and
when?". Suggestions include giving them permission to give
themselves permission to take time out for themselves... to take a
walk, to read the paper, or to leave the home for a short while.
Problem solving strategies: (Note: for some people, this can be
a very effective way to approach problems. However, for people who
tend to be very concrete, it may arouse more anxiety than it
Steps In Problem-Solving
Step 1: Clearly define the uppermost problem.
Step 2: Recognize how you feel about the problem.
Step 3: Relax and try not to think about solutions for awhile.
Step 4: Consider all possible solutions, even "bad" ones.
Step 5: Try to imagine how other people might solve the problem.
Step 6: Evaluate the pros and cons of each solution.
Step 7: Arrange the various solutions into a list starting with the least desirable or least practical one. Talk about it with family and friends.
Step 8: Make a choice. Remember all choices are not final. Remain flexible.
Step 9: Briefly consider some favorable or positive aspect of the
original problem. Can you think about it differently?
Time management strategies: Managing the Impact on your
Self Assessment of Current Status
Identify the tasks
Get and accept additional help
Make a list of chores and when others ask "What can I do?"
refer to this list. Many times people really do want to help, they
just don't know how.
Dealing with uncertainty
seek out reliable information
discuss fears of the unknown
make contingency plans
explore spiritual and existential concerns.
Dealing with social isolation
accept offers of help, allow others to stay with the patient
while you go out
develop telephone buddies
get out of the house
allow time (give permission) for self each day with
enjoyable activities (reading, gardening, TV)
seek help from family, neighbors, church members
Keeping Healthy as a Family Caregiver: Cancer Prevention and Early Detection
Family caregivers become immersed in their role as caregivers and
frequently shift their attention away from their own health care
needs. It is important to emphasize prevention and early detection
strategies among this group.
Although there is no guaranteed method to prevent all cancers
there are certain decisions that healthy people can make to lower
their chances of developing certain cancers.
Contact your local ACS or your physician for help with
smoking cessation. It is now illegal to sell cigarettes to minors in
Five servings of fruits and vegetables each day
Maintain a healthy weight
Avoid excess sun exposure
ACS/NCI guidelines are only general guidelines. Individuals with
a family history or other predisposing factors should consult their
health care practitioners regarding early detection.
Cancers that are found early may be easier to cure.
breast self exam
professional breast exam
digital rectal exam: all men over 50
prostate specific antigen
Public education resources that may be helpful
General cancer prevention and early detection
Get a New Attitude About Cancer: A Guide for Black Americans NCINIH publication No.93-3412, December 1992.
Cancer Tests You Should Know About: A Guide for People 65 and Over NCI NIH Publication No. 93-3256, rev. 1992.
Breast and cervical cancer
Questions and Answers About Choosing a Mammography Facility NCI NIH Publication No. 93-3228, reprinted May, 1993.
Do the Right Thing: Get A Mammogram NCI NIH Publication no. 92-3210, rev. September 1992.
The Pap Test: It Can Save Your Life! NCI, NIH Publication No. 91-3213, October, 1991.
A Health Guide for All Women NCI NIH Publication No. 93-3536, printed April 1993.
Helping People Cope: A Guide for Families Facing Cancer
A Special Touch: A Personal Plan of Action for Breast Health. American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer Detection Awareness- Questions and Answers American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer Questions and Answers American Cancer Society
Breast Self Examination Monthly Reminder Card American Cancer Society
Three Ways to Take Special Care of Your Breasts American Cancer Society
Shower Card Breast Self Exam
Posters (from the American Cancer Society)
Fight Breast Cancer With Your Own Two Hands
Keep in Touch With Yourself
Mammography: Your Most Powerful Weapon
Use This Powerful Weapon Against Breast Cancer
Are you Watching Your Figure, But Ignoring Your Body? (pap test)
Breast Self-Exam: A Special Touch 8:15 minutes. 1/2 inch
videotape. American Cancer Society
How to Examine Your Breasts 9:18 minutes. 1/2 inch videotape. American Cancer Society
Nowhere To Hide (highlights mammography exams) 9:28 minutes. 1/2 inch videotape. American Cancer Society
Take the Time (importance of pap tests) 15:00 minutes. 1/2 inch videotape. American Cancer Society
The Food Guide Pyramid, United States Department of Agriculture, Home and Garden Bulletin Number 252
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, United States Department of Agriculture, Home and Garden Bulletin Number 232
Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer Prevention: the Good News, American Cancer Society
Jan 31, 2013 - Early palliative care clinic visits, integrated with standard oncologic care for patients with metastatic lung cancer, emphasize symptom management, coping, and psychosocial aspects of illness, according to research published online Jan. 28 in JAMA Internal Medicine.