Challenges Caregivers Should Expect
Many people get a sense of personal fulfillment from taking care of a loved on who has cancer.
Many caregivers, however, usually face physical, emotional, and financial problems that vary according to the amount and kind of care the patient needs.
Many caregivers develop physical problems from stress and not taking care of themselves. Stress can cause aches and pains, sleep problems, and appetite changes. Caregivers often don’t get enough restful, continuous sleep, making them feel tired. Caregivers often don’t have the time and energy to prepare proper meals and exercise, and they may skip their own doctor’s appointments.
Depression is common among caregivers. They may also feel lonely if the demands of caring for their loved one leaves them little time to spend visiting friends and family, and if they have to quit their jobs, which can also be a financial strain. Caregiver stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger, and guilt. These problems increase as the time spent with the patient and the intensity of care increases. Stress is higher among caregivers who feel they have no choice but to take care of the patient.
Caregiving can create immediate and long-term financial problems for caregivers. Many caregivers give money to the patient—$200 per month on average—and spend an average of $5,531 per year out-of-pocket on expenses related to caregiving. At the same time, caregivers frequently are forced to reduce their work hours or quit their job entirely to care for their loved one, reducing their retirement savings and Social Security benefits, and often losing their health insurance.