Information reproduced from ASCOAnswers – 2015

Caregiving At Home

People with cancer now spend much less time in the hospital than they did in the past. Many people receive treatment at an outpatient treatment center or take cancer medications at home. This means that family members and friends play a large role in the day to day care of a person with cancer. Family caregivers are doing things that, until recently, were done by trained health care professionals. This may include bandaging and wound care, help with catheters, giving injections, dispensing medications, and a number of other tasks. Of course, family and friends need to learn How to do in-home palliative care to ensure everything is administered correctly but the concept of home care is relatively easy to grasp.

This section describes a few of the non-medical responsibilities you may need to take on. This could include looking around their home to see what could be modified, for example, their shower may not be compatible with their needs, you may need to discuss options with a professional at places like to see what can be done. However, it is not a comprehensive list. If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of the health care team. You are all working together to provide the best possible care for your loved one.

Going To Appointments

Throughout treatment, someone with cancer may need to go to the hospital or clinic a number of times during the week. Unfortunately, cancer treatment may have very unpleasant and distressing side effects. treatments like chemotherapy can cause weakness, pain, fatigue, nausea, hair loss, and difficulty concentrating. Treatment may also interfere with a person’s ability to be self-sufficient and independent. Because of this, caregivers may need to provide transportation to and from the hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office, in addition to providing company during appointments and treatment sessions. Most businesses and clinics should provide disabled parking spaces so that you can park close to the enterance. Those who don’t can find line marking aerosol machines and stencils which will allow them to create parking spaces to help those who have trouble walking.

A little bit of planning can help make getting to appointments much easier. Here are a few things to know before leaving the house:

  • Where is the office located? What is the building address? Which floor is the office on? What is the room or suite number?
  • Where should you park? Will you have to pay for parking?
  • Which entrance to the building should you use?
  • How far will you need to walk?
  • Will your loved one need a wheelchair or assistance at the door?
  • How long with this visit likely last?

If you are unable to take your loved one to an appointment, there are other transportation options to consider:

  • Other family, friends, or neighbors
  • Members of religious or community organizations your loved one belongs to
  • Volunteer driver programs through churches or hospitals
  • Hospital vans
  • Other caregiving families that night help carpool
  • Private door-through-door transportation services
  • Paratransit, which is public transportation for the elderly or disabled
  • Mobility scooters, wheelchairs and strollers available from somewhere like Bosshard Medical if they are able to get there themselves

If possible, schedule transportation assistance at least one week in advance. Then, confirm with date and time one day before the appointment. Talk with an oncologist social worker or patient navigator if you need help arranging transportation to and from appointments.

Talking With The Doctor

Some people with cancer like to have their caregivers’ support when they talk with the doctor. This could mean:

  • Making a list of questions before an appointment. Sit down with your loved one and think about the most important issues or concerns you’d like to discuss. these questions should reflect the doubts, concerns, and issues of all family members. Then rank the questions in order of importance. At the beginning of the appointment, make sure to tell the doctor that you would life to have time to ask 2 or 3 questions.
  • Providing new details. Information about symptoms and side effects or other things you’ve noticed can help the doctor make more informed decisions about your loved one’s care.
  • Keeping track of information your loved on receives. You can help listen to and remember the information given by the health care team at appointments. you may want to take notes or record important conversations. or ask for a printed summary of the visit before leaving the doctor’s office.

It is normal for people to want to protect friends and family members by buffering information they receive at their appointments. This may not be helpful and may actually cause more hurt an anxiety. It is better to be open and share the worry than worry alone. However, always make sure you have your loved one’s permission before sharing any personal medical information with others.

Making a Travel Bag

Having a trail bag packed and ready to go before each appointment can e helpful. That way no matter who is taking your loved one to an appointment, he or she will have everything that’s needed all in one place. Keep the bag in the same location, and let each driver know where it is located.

Items to include in a travel bag:

  1. Office address and directions
  2. Medication list
  3. Insurance cards
  4. Identification
  5. Small amount of money
  6. House key
  7. Cellphone
  8. Emergency contact information
  9. A healthy snack
  10. A bottle of water
  11. Wies, tissues, or paper towels
  12. Seater, sweatshirt, wrap, or blanket
  13. Book, magazine, tablet, or something else to provide entertainment
  14. Notebook and pen or another way to record information

Click here for an Appointment Informations Sheet