When you care for a loved one 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 updating doctors, family, and friends.
It's a lot to take on, but the right preparation can make the tasks easier to manage and let you get the support you need.
Learn About Prostate Cancer
Find out all you can about your loved one's condition. Go with him to his medical appointments and feel free to take notes.
Come prepared with questions. Be specific and direct. For instance, ask about the side effects of each treatment or what symptoms to expect.
Also ask about the latest and best ways to treat prostate cancer.
Organize Care at Home
It's important to set priorities. Let tasks 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 your family members and friends. If you can, consider hiring a home health nurse. These trained professionals provide a variety of services, such as helping people bathe and handling more complex procedures and checkups. They can also teach you how to do difficult tasks.
Take Care of Legal and Financial Issues
Encourage your loved one to fill out an advance health directive. This document does two things. It lets the doctor know, in writing, how much medical intervention your loved one wants 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, or a hospital social worker, can help with the form.
Also help your loved one get a 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
Take steps to avoid caregiver burnout. You'll need support. 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, where you can meet 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.