Helping caregivers: helping a patient without forgetting oneself

When a person learns that he has cancer, a so-called “serious” disease, the whole family becomes ill. A recent study shows that 25% of caregivers experience moderate emotional distress, and 33% significant emotional distress requiring support. Diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease require long-term support, caregivers also need help.

We often meet loved ones exhausted by the care they provide to the patient, the availability and listening they have to offer, but sometimes also by the very demands of the patient who is not always aware. Most often, relatives, immersed in the disease, “support” the sick without being supported themselves, and even less subjects of care. Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, more and more care establishments are offering those around them the opportunity to take part in discussion groups where the experiences of some come to comfort and support the distress of others. It is important to be able to help them because the role they play with patients is essential. They must be listened to and recognized in their difficulties and complaints. However, most often, experiencing a feeling of guilt, that of being “well”, they do not dare to talk about their suffering, which is nevertheless very real. They too were hit hard by the shock of the announcement, which turned their lives, their relationship and their vision of their future upside down.

Give yourself permission to rest

To be able to withstand the long term, caregivers must give themselves permission, that of experiencing contradictory feelings, compassion

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for the patient but also anger, revolt, and allowing oneself moments of respite. It is important that they also seek support from their

own family, their friends, or even ask for psychological support if necessary. Although all attention is focused on the

sick person, the carer must not forget to have fun, to catch his breath, by taking breaks (sports activity,

relaxation, cinema, outings with friends, reading…)… outside the patient. Cry, even, when he feels the need.

Find and keep your place

Finally, he must remain in the bond which binds him to the patient, that is to say, to remain the husband, the wife, the child, the parent. He is not a second

doctor, a professional at home. The right place for the helper is the one he consents to and not the one assigned to him. To him to

know your limits and allow yourself not to go beyond them. The loved one does not necessarily have to be in the doing but in the being. It is his presence that matters.

Even professionals need help

It is in cancer services that we find the most caregivers with a depressive episode. Because even if they have chosen this profession, the fact of announcing diagnoses involving a vital prognosis all day long is particularly anxiety-provoking. To protect themselves, they admit to “armoring” themselves. The position of these carers is only “tenable” if they have done personal work, allowing them both to welcome the suffering of others with empathy, but also by keeping the right distance, allowing them to operate in as a carer without being “demolished” by the moral pain of the patients. This work must continue throughout his practice thanks to what is called supervision or control, which is a work of restitution of what happens during certain interviews, to a peer, shrink, too . Confidentiality is of course maintained and preserved.

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To help you

– The newspaper “From Close to Close” of the League against Cancer

– The Sor Savoir Guide of the National Federation of Centers for the Fight against Aele Cancer (FNCLCC), downloadable

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Slimming down while eating sugar: just a matter of good “timing”

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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