Asking others for help

You may want to do all that is possible to help, especially at first. If the condition of the person you’re caring for changes over time, you may have to take on more tasks, which can make it harder to cope.

Some carers say they feel as though they have failed if they can’t manage all the responsibilities of caring by themselves. Others worry that asking for help will be interpreted as a sign that they are not coping with caring, and their role will be taken away. You may feel that everything should be provided by the family and that outside help is not necessary.

Asking for and accepting assistance is sometimes difficult. You may find it hard to let others know what help you need. If you seem to be coping with everything, family and friends may not realise you need help. They may be waiting for you to ask for help because they don’t know how to offer or fear they will be intruding or disturbing you.

Some ways you can determine what needs to be done and who could help:

  • Write down everything that you do each day.
  • Ask yourself what things the person you care for wants only you to do. For example, the person may be most comfortable with you assisting them with toileting or showering.
  • Consider the tasks that are the easiest to delegate or share.
  • Think about specific tasks you enjoy or are particularly good at. You may want to do these things and allocate other responsibilities.

Setting boundaries and limitations

To establish a happy and long-lasting caring relationship, it may help to set boundaries. Outline what you are comfortable helping with, the level of workload you can manage, and what your own needs are. The help of family, friends or support services can be used to fill the gaps. For example, if you find it uncomfortable or are physically unable to wash or provide intimate care to the person you care for, talk to a community nurse about providing this care.

What about the person I care for?

Many people being cared for look forward to a change from their usual care arrangements as much as their carers do. However, sometimes the person with cancer may not want you to take a break, because they’re worried about what it means for them. Explaining how a break will benefit both of you may help.

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