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Family Caregivers in Cancer (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Assessing Caregiver Needs

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Some of the reasons caregivers do not get outside help is that they:

  • Don't want to share family matters with others.
  • Can't find outside help.
  • Don't trust social service providers.
  • Don't know how hospice care can help them.

Age and health

Caregivers may have issues related to age and health that increase their risk for caregiver strain:

  • For an older adult caregiver, issues that are a part of aging may make caregiving harder to handle. Older caregivers may have health problems, live on fixed incomes, and have little social support. As they try to meet the demands of caregiving, older caregivers may not take care of their own health. This can make their health worse or cause new health problems. Caregiver strain in older caregivers may lead to an earlier death than noncaregivers the same age.
  • Middle-aged and younger caregivers who have jobs and children or other family members to care for are often strained by the caregiving role. These caregivers try to meet the needs of work and family and give up much of their social life while caring for the patient.

The costs of care

Families with low household incomes may not be able to afford the costs of caregiving. When the family cannot pay for costs related to treatment, the patient's recovery may be affected. Caregiver distress increases.

Roles and relationships

As the number of roles the caregiver must fill increases, the risk of caregiver strain also increases. Given too many roles to fill, the caregiver will not have the time and energy to do them all. For example, caregivers who have a job and also care for children report high levels of stress. However, working while caregiving can also be helpful. Time away from the caregiving role and the social support from co-workers can give the caregiver some relief.

Roles and relationships among family members can be affected by caregiving. A caregiver assessment looks at family relationships to see if there is risk of caregiver strain.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: September 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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