CDPAP is a program that allows individuals to hire caregivers of their choice to take care of family members or friends who require assistance in carrying out day-to-day activities.
Suppose you are looking to be a CDPAP caregiver. In that case, there are certain things that you have to know, and this guide has been created to help you understand how the CDPAP program works. It will also assist you in carrying out caregiving activities effortlessly and efficiently.
Being a caregiver for someone with cancer
Being a caregiver is all about showing love and support in all the ways possible to someone, be it a family member or a friend with cancer. The task might involve helping and assisting the sick person with daily activities like bathing, preparing meals, cleaning up around the house, and running errands.
It could also entail going to see the doctor for checkups and appointments. In some other cases, spiritual care is also a part of a caregiver’s job. As a caregiver, you are there to make life less stressful, easier, and more comfortable for the person in your care.
In essence, the role of a caregiver is a multifaceted one that can have a significant impact on the quality of the cancer patient’s life. Here are some of the ways you can support a relative with cancer as a CDPAP caregiver.
· Navigating and advocating through the medical system:
You will find it an essential part of your duty to get familiar with the medical system and how it works, especially as it concerns the person’s status under your care. You might also be required to serve as a communicator between the patient and the health care team.
Carrying out research and being up to date with the kind of cancer they are suffering is essential too. You should also know the treatments they are currently undergoing and the method of care to be taken during and after treatment. This is because you are now a part of the person’s day-to-day care, especially if they are being cared for at home.
· Nursing them:
Because cancer patients are often weak and cannot do a lot of activities by themselves, the role of nursing falls on you as the caregiver. You will be responsible for bathing them, preparing their meals, feeding them, helping them use the toilet, changing clothes, etc.
Nursing generally involves you helping the patient manage physical needs while observing the patient in case of any emergency.
· Emotional support:
Listening to sick people goes a long way in terms of emotional support. Sometimes, you might be tempted to tell them that all will be fine when they are going through struggles. But then, just listening to how they express their feelings will go a long way. Also, ask them for ways you can provide a distraction from how they feel at the moment, perhaps an activity they used to enjoy.
It is essential to know that many emotions ranging from anger to worry and fear will constantly be present in your patient’s mind, so in all you do, remember to apply patience.
· Household management:
Taking care of things around the house; doing the dishes, cleaning, vacuuming, running errands, getting the groceries, and managing the household is are part of the caregiver’s task.
· Earner of income:
Most cancer patients can no longer go back to their old jobs or meet the quota it takes to have a job and earn a living. This is because of the requirements and challenges of their treatments. You, as a caregiver, become the earner of income in that household and for the patient. This means that the burden of paying bills and providing the necessities in the house then falls on you.
How does it feel to be a caregiver for someone with cancer
As a caregiver, you are an essential part of a person’s life. You manage choices, decisions and carry out actions. You are involved in the person’s physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual life. As such, what affects the person might begin to affect you too.
When giving care, you will find that at some point, it becomes very stressful and demanding as time progresses. Your time becomes dedicated to overseeing the person’s well-being, and you have to be observant in case of an emergency, giving you little or no room for yourself and limiting your social life. You might notice that you no longer have time to visit your friends, have a little chat with other people, or take a stroll. Eventually, you might begin to feel signs of loneliness and depression.
Because you have assumed the position of the breadwinner, you might also find yourself having to pick up extra shifts or work additional jobs to meet up the financial requirements of running the household.
Stress from caregiving can also cause burnout, leading to a decline in mental health, causing anxiety and depression, or a decrease in physical fitness. You may find yourself experiencing headaches, backaches, stomach problems, fatigue, chest pain, skin problems, and the likes.
Here are some other challenges you might encounter as a caregiver;
You might begin to worry that there is no hope for the cancer patient under your care, especially when the treatments show no signs of working. Instead of being a source of light for the person, you become impatient and have angry outbursts. It is hard not to worry about the future, especially when it involves treating cancer.
· Financial burden:
Having to shoulder the burden of household amenities, pay for treatment, and the likes can weigh down on your shoulders. You begin to think of how to shuffle it all and sometimes succumb to depression or drinking to cope with your thoughts.
If the person you are caring for is a spouse or a child, you might begin to feel guilt for devoting your time and care to one person, shortchanging the rest of the family members.
· Switching roles:
Finding yourself at the other end of the yardstick can be very settling. If you were once the dependent one, having to become the person who has to take up caregiving can put a heavy burden on your shoulders.
· Constant attention and no time for yourself:
Having to work around the clock, providing constant attention for someone with cancer will leave you with little or no room for yourself. All the activities you must have engaged in before the diagnosis become a thing of the past.
Watching everything pass by you can lead to resentment of the person and your duties. Having to be with the same person every day for a very long time can also cause social withdrawal and social anxiety.
How to Deal with Burnout as a CDPAP Caregiver
When you notice the following, it is crucial for you to know that your state of mind and health also matters. You can deal with burnout in the following ways;
· Make time for yourself:
No matter how demanding the role of caregiving is, make sure to take time to do the things that you like, no matter how little the time is. You can achieve this by making a list of priorities for each day and setting goals that you want to achieve.
· Talk to someone:
Talk to someone who understands just how you feel. There are support groups for caregivers of cancer patients to express how they feel and draw support from one another.
· Do not dismiss your feelings as irrelevant:
When you recognize the warning signs, don’t dismiss them as “just stress” or “I’ll get back to it later.” Act on it and find out where the problem stems from.
· Eat, drink, sleep:
You might get caught up in nursing and forget that your body needs care too. Not eating enough food will make you weak, and not sleeping enough can cause fatigue, body pains, and headache. Take time to eat, drink lots of food, and take naps apart from night rest.
· Ask for help:
Remember that you are not a machine and cannot do it all by yourself. When it gets hard, ask for help. If you cannot get the groceries, ask a friend for help. If you are too tired to clean the house, ask for help. That way, your body will not tire out quickly, and you can have time to focus on other things.
· Take walks around the neighborhood, inhale the outside air and take the time to exercise your muscles.
· Write about how you feel:
If you feel in a certain way that troubles you and there is no one to talk to, write your feelings out in your diary or journal. Pour out all the frustration you feel into words and let it serve as a place to unburden all the stress at the end of the day.
If you need to cry, don’t bottle your tears. Instead, let them all out. Give yourself permission to grieve, cry and express how you feel.
· Educate yourself:
Get information from support groups, the health team, and libraries to educate yourself and gain more knowledge when you have feelings of uncertainty.
· Even though you are tasked with the person’s general care with cancer, you sometimes know that the person is taking undue advantage of your presence. Learn to say no in situations like this, especially when you feel drained.
· Seek professional help:
Where the other methods do not work, seek professional help.
Although caregiving is a stressful job that might sometimes result in burnout, there are also rewards. Being part of a person’s journey to recovery means that you do not only get to share their bad moments, but you share the good ones too.
When you go to the doctor, and the result shows that the patient’s chances of total recovery are high and the treatment is working, you will also share the joy and hope that fills the individual. Every milestone that proves to be a success to the person in your care is, in some way, your success too.
Tips for caregivers of cancer patients
As a caregiver, you might find yourself juggling so many responsibilities, trying to get the many hats to fit without much success. Uninformed, you find yourself with a jumbo of choices and decisions, not knowing what to attach much importance to. You go from being the spouse to being a counselor, chauffeur, breadwinner, also, in addition to being a daughter or a son or a mother or a father.
Important tips to be a qualified caregiver includes:
· Be educated in the type of cancer, options, and treatment:
Before taking on the role of a caregiver, you have to know precisely what you are dealing with. What type of cancer the patient has, the treatments recommended, other options and methods that can be tried out, what the treatment he is currently undergoing entails, and how to care for them before, during, and after the treatment process.
Learn about the effects of the drugs administered and potential side effects that might occur. Ask the doctors for educational pamphlets and materials to be better equipped and more confident in the choices.
· Trust the medical team you choose to provide individualized care:
You have to trust that the team you chose to provide care to the patient or person with cancer under your supervision will do their best to make sure that your loved one is cared for to the best of abilities.
Find a medical team of doctors experienced in that form of cancer and have them close by in case of emergencies and for convenience.
· Have a list of tasks in order of importance:
To avoid getting tangled in a flurry of activities, ending up confused, make sure that there is a list of everything that needs to be done in order of importance. Have all your papers, records, and test results in an organized file and up to date.
· Keep the doctor informed:
Keep the doctor informed of any changes, no matter how little they might be from sleeping patterns, eating habits, mood swings. Don’t wait until the difference you notice becomes too big that it cannot go unnoticed. The minor things can affect the quality of life of the person under your care.
· Coach the patient through their feelings and bad days:
On days when they are down, sad, angry, or depressed, you are there to offer emotional and mental support. Also, know that it is normal for some days to be bad while others are good. When the “bad days” come, remember to be nothing short of patient and supportive.
· Stay positive:
The attitude you put out matters a great deal. You might want to get angry at the unfairness of the situation and behave negatively but do well to remember that they are going through the treatments and pain. Think happy thoughts, project happy thoughts, put a smile on your face to brighten up your day.
Staying positive can also help you carry out activities with more ease. You might not control the situation, but you can control how you react to it.
· Don’t let them focus on cancer:
Plan fun activities, put on some music, make a splendid meal you haven’t tried in a long time, watch movies, find a way for them to enjoy activities that they no longer have the ability to participate in fully. Focusing on cancer all the time does not make it go away.
There is still life out there to be lived and at every chance they have, let them see how beautiful it can be.
· Remind your loved one that you care:
Reassure your loved ones that you still care and love them no matter the present situation. Let your loved ones know that the current situation has not diminished their worth or value in your eyes. Back your words up with affectionate gestures to show that you genuinely care.
· Make time for yourself:
Realize that you also need time to yourself. Caregiving can be very tasking and isolating job, and sometimes you need to unwind, kick your feet up in the air and maybe have a glass of wine or catch up on some required hours of sleep. Monitor your health to make sure that you are not neglecting your well-being.
If you notice that your health is failing, see the doctor. You can only care for your loved one if you are in proper shape.
· Know your limits and accept help:
Do not think that only you can do the job or you are supposed to shoulder all the burden. Sometimes it gets too heavy, and you need some help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you need financial aid, you can ask the hospital social worker or seek assistance from other Caregivers associations.
When friends or other family members come around, don’t hesitate to ask for help running errands, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, vacuuming, doing the dishes, or preparing a meal. Caregiving is not a one-man’s work.
· Let the patient make decisions too:
As much as you can make the decisions, let the patient have a say too. They have to feel in control of their lives to prevent feeling like a complete invalid. Engage them in making decisions like the color of cloth to wear for the day, the type of music to play for the evening, no matter how trifle the situation or choices might be.
· Learn to forgive yourself if you make mistakes:
You are not perfect, and you should know that. When you make mistakes, do not feel like a failure. Do not beat yourself up about not being a hundred percent accurate. No one can do everything. Learn from your mistakes to do better and accept that you have shortcomings.
Being a caregiver to relatives with cancer can be a tricky and stressful job. However, you can manage it better if you have access to the right information. The tips in this article will help you greatly.