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Caregiver Support > Caring for a Loved One
While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding and meaningful, it can also be challenging and stressful.1 You may find yourself struggling to adapt to your new caregiving role. Perhaps you are now caring for a parent while raising your own children.2 Not only are you juggling many responsibilities, you are also taking care of someone who used to take care of you. Maybe you are caring for a spouse who is becoming more dependent and demanding. The relationship may no longer feel as equal as it once did. Either way, it’s common to feel angry and resentful2—and exhausted, both physically and emotionally. This section can help you manage your caregiving role and look after yourself at the same time.
If you’re a caregiver to someone who’s living with melanoma, there are many ways you can help. But keep in mind that your loved one may find it difficult to ask for help. Try asking your loved one what would be most helpful for them. Perhaps say, “What can I do to help you today?” or “What can I do right now to relieve a little bit of stress?” Consider suggesting specific tasks you can do, even if you aren’t sure they will help: “What do you want me to make for dinner tonight?” or “What errands can I run for you?”3 That way, your loved one doesn’t have to think about what he or she needs.
There are many ways you can support your loved one, and the type of help will depend on what your loved one needs at any point in time. The support you provide can be either practical or emotional. Practical support is often about “doing” and emotional support is more about “being.” Some examples of each are outlined below.4
Practical support means helping in an active way. This could include helping out around the house, such as buying groceries, making dinner, or doing the laundry. Practical support also includes helping your loved one to take their treatment as prescribed.
An important role of a caregiver is to be an advocate for their loved one with the healthcare team. Here are some ways you can do that:
As a caregiver, you may be responsible for managing your loved one’s medication. That can include filling or refilling prescriptions, making sure your loved one takes medication as prescribed, and communicating with the healthcare team about any side effects. If that sounds like a lot to keep track of, it is. Here are some tips to make managing your loved one’s treatment a bit easier:
Sometimes all you need to do is listen and be present. Let your loved one complain, cry, or express anger without judging, cheerleading, or trying to problem-solve.7 Simply acknowledge their feelings. Being listened to and having the opportunity to voice their feelings can be healing for them.
Other ways to provide emotional support include:
At times, your loved one may want to be alone. Perhaps they are tired of trying to be brave. Maybe they want to have peace and quiet to be alone with their thoughts. Try not to take this personally. Part of staying close is giving them space if they need it. Send them a note letting them know how much you love, admire, and care about them. Remind them that you are there for them.