Heather and Cam

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and when it comes to mesothelioma, many survivors are vocal in attributing their survival to the care they receive at the hands of family and friends.

Over the last few years, we’ve received a lot of tips and advice from caregivers about how to take care of their loved ones, as well as how to take care of themselves. Today, we’re bringing back some of that advice to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season.

Take Care of Yourself

One thing that many caregivers agree on is that it’s important to take care of yourself. If you are sick yourself, or start feeling tired and burned out, you aren’t going to be able to help anyone else, especially someone who is recovering from the devastating effects of cancer treatments.

“Make sure you are getting plenty of rest and eating properly,” Cameron Von St. James told us previously. “Know your body and your limits.” This including taking daily exercise breaks, even if it’s something as quick as a walk around the block. Having a few moments for your body and your mind to relax are important, as they will give you the energy you need to help your loved one through their trying time.

Set Up a Schedule

Another thing that many caregivers do is to make sure they have a schedule – and then stick to it! Termeh Khoshniat, the winner of our Spring Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Scholarship, said that one of the things that helps her care for her mother is establishing her priorities. “I needed to have a schedule for my mother and I,” Termeh told us in April. “After a while it became like a system and I have adopted this system until this day.”

Not every system is going to be perfect from the start, so don’t try to reach perfection right off the bat. It’s better to set a schedule and adjust it later than to not have any schedule at all. Just make sure that you’re not doing tons of “adjusting” all the time. Find a happy middle ground where the schedule works well enough to help you care for your loved one, but isn’t so rigid that it can’t be changed if need be.

Seek Help When You Need It

Sometimes caregivers fall into the trap of thinking that they should only be helping others, rather than needing help themselves. However, everyone needs a little help sometimes, and even caregivers should feel okay with seeking out help when they need it.

This is especially true when caring for a bedridden loved one. Individuals who are able to walk or otherwise move about can often participate in caring for themselves, at least to some extent. However, when a loved one is bedridden, they may need an extra level of care that is simply too difficult for one person to provide.

It is important for both yourself and the loved you are caring for that you are able to recognize your own limits before you reach those limits. Being able to call in help – whether it’s another family member or a professional medical assistant – is something that can save a lot of aggravation, effort, and perhaps even your loved one’s life.

Share Your Own Caregiving Tips

There are a lot of caregivers out there providing care for their loved ones on a daily basis. What advice do you have for others? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or tweet us your caregiver ideas.