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Advanced Prostate Cancer and Caregiving

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Address Legal and Financial Affairs

When taking care of an ill person, it often seems like time stands still. But that's not the case. Bills continue to arrive in the mail. Medical and financial decisions about the future require attention now, before it's too late. Here are ways you can prepare.

Encourage your loved one to fill out an advanced health directive. This document has two purposes. It lets the doctor know, in writing, the extent of medical interventions he desires to extend his life. Plus, it assigns an "agent," a person to make his wishes known if he can no longer communicate. You can get an advanced health directive from the hospital or the doctor. A doctor who is familiar with your loved one's health status, or a hospital social worker, can help with the form.

Assist your loved one in seeking financial power of attorney. Like the advanced health directive, this document appoints someone to handle his financial affairs if he is no longer able.

Take Care of the Caregiver

The physically and emotionally intense job of caregiving may lead to exhaustion, depression, and sheer burnout. Many caregivers find it difficult to take any time away from the patient. But even short bouts of time for oneself can help. A recent survey of caregivers reported that "getting away from things for a little while" reduced the stress of caregiving more than any other strategy.

Joining a support group can help, too. It offers caregivers a sympathetic audience with whom they can share their feelings. Plus, caregivers can get tips from others in similar situations.

Too often, caregivers often neglect their own needs. "Many caregivers won't even leave home. They want to be present for the loved one's needs." That's understandable. But remember: caregivers who attend to their own physical and mental health needs are better equipped to take care of someone else's.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on October 15, 2012
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