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Advanced Prostate Cancer and Caregiving

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As someone caring for a man with advanced prostate cancer, you have a lot of responsibilities. Chances are you're involved in everything from medical appointments to emotional support, health insurance, and communicating with doctors, family, and friends.

It's a lot to take on, and you may feel unprepared. But you can make the tasks more manageable -- and get the support you need, too. 

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Seek Information About Prostate Cancer

Learn all you can about your loved one's condition. Go with him to his medical appointments. You may want to record what the doctor says and take notes.

Come prepared with questions. Be specific and direct. For instance, ask about the side effects of a given treatment, or what symptoms to expect.

Also ask about the latest and most effective treatments and who they're good for.

Organize Care at Home

Prioritize tasks. Let things wait if they're not urgent. Think about how much time and energy you can give to caregiving. You'll need help. Look first to willing family members and friends. If you can, consider hiring a home health nurse. These trained health care professionals provide a variety of services, such as helping patients bathe and handling more complex procedures and checkups. They can also teach you how to do difficult tasks.

Address Legal and Financial Affairs

Encourage your loved one to fill out an advance health directive. This document has two purposes. It lets the doctor know, in writing, the extent of medical interventions your loved one 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 advance 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 advance health directive, this document appoints someone to handle his financial affairs if he is no longer able.

Take Care of Yourself

Caregiving is physically and emotionally intense. You may feel exhausted, depressed, and burned out from time to time, even if it's also something you want to do.

You need support. If you find it hard to take any time away, know that even a little time for yourself can help. In one survey, caregivers reported that "getting away from things for a little while" curbed their stress more than anything else. You may want to join a support group, too, where you can connect with people who can relate to what you're going through because they're caregivers, too.

Remember, you must take care of your own needs in order to be at your best for your loved one.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on October 29, 2014
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