Texas Oncology promotes thanking a caregiver this November

Published 11/16/2012


THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Each year half a million caregivers provide care and support to the ailing and elderly in Texas, including critically needed help for the 110,000 Texans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. In November, National Family Caregivers Month, Texas Oncology is highlighting the vital role these unsung heroes play in the cancer treatment continuum, and encouraging expressions of thanks and support for caregivers.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

In the last five years, an estimated half a million Texans were diagnosed with cancer. In most cases, a friend or loved one stands with them, to provide critical emotional and physical support and care that enables cancer patients to complete their treatment.

“Often overlooked, caregivers are much more than mere ‘helpers.’ Indeed, they are essential partners in our cancer treatment programs, and front line supporters in our patients’ cancer fight,” said Dr. Deepa Sashital, medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Baytown. “Any and all support for caregivers improves our patients’ well-being, and positively impacts their treatment experience.”

Through its pioneering community-based approach to treatment, Texas Oncology delivers advanced care locally – a significant advantage for patients who are able to stay connected to family, friends, support systems, and jobs.

Caregivers often provide both direct care (administering medications, providing meals, assisting with personal hygiene) and indirect care (errands, household tasks, transportation to treatment, financial and insurance management) and frequently over extended periods of time.

Numerous studies of the unique challenges that caregivers face show that the emotional, physical, and financial toll caregivers pay is significant, and that they need support, encouragement, and respite in order to sustain their ability to be effective in this demanding role. Researchers have confirmed that caregivers are at high risk for depression and anxiety, chronic stress-related health problems, and loss of income due to missed work.

“Success in fighting cancer requires breakthrough medical treatment combined with compassionate support at home. Every day we see examples of caring Texans helping patients and caregivers in numerous ways – such as running errands, mowing a yard, or sitting with a patient for an afternoon,” said Michelle Grodi, an oncology nurse at Texas Oncology–Bedford and Texas Oncology–Grapevine.

“We encourage expressions of support and gratitude for caregivers in the interest of helping preserve the emotional health and stability of families experiencing the ordeal of cancer treatment.”

Thank a caregiver – every little bit helps

Support for caregivers can take many forms, but even a simple acknowledgement can make a big difference. Texas Oncology has created a downloadable thank you card to show your personal support for caregivers at www.TexasOncology.com/GivingThanks. Texas Oncology urges you to devote at least one hour of time this month to helping a caregiver, and offers the following suggestions:

• Say “thank you”

• Give a day off – guilt free

• Do something together that you both enjoy

• Drop off supplies for a favorite hobby (such as knitting yarn or a new book)

• Invite his/her children for a play date

• Pick up extra groceries on your next shopping trip

• Talk about something other than cancer

• Put together a package for writing notes, including stamps, pens, and assorted note cards

• Ask for a list and run errands

• Organize and schedule other friends to provide dinner

• Mow the lawn

• Donate house cleaning services or offer your own services

• Leave a basket of muffins or cookies by the front door

• Provide a favorite movie for the caregiver and patient to enjoy together

• Stay in touch and be a good listener

For more ways to help caregivers, as well as advice for new caregivers, visit www.TexasOncology.com/GivingThanks.

Additional insight and information is available from organizations devoted to addressing the needs of caregivers, including:

· The National Family Caregivers Association www.thefamilycaregiver.org

· AARP www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/

· Family Caregiver Alliance www.caregiver.org

· National Alliance for Caregiving www.caregiving.org

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