15 Tips for New Caregivers

by Brittany McNabb

The role of caregiver can be as important as the role of a patient. For many patients, their caregiver is their hero and their #1 fan. In order to help new caregivers as they journey forward in taking care of their loved ones, here are 15 tips from WhatNexter caregivers themselves. 

Caregiver Picture

"My husband is my caregiver and he's been so amazing through this journey. It's not just my cancer journey, it's ours. He has been by my side, has been to every appointment, cooks my meals, takes care of the household chores and holds down a full time job! He gave me all my shots, made sure I took my meds and shaved my head! He's my hero and really gave me the strength to keep going. He loved me through this hard journey and I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life." - terrilynn [pictured with her husband above]

1. Speak up and advocate for your loved one to doctors, nurses, and other members of the care team. 

2. Listen to the patient's specific needs and don't assume you know what is best.

3. Get a calendar and notebook and write everything down including doctor appointments and medications. 

4. Don't try to change the patient's feelings.


"The most important thing I have learned about relating to someone who is ill is not to attempt to change the person's feelings. Let them have their feelings. As a patient/sick person, I felt this acutely and "learned" it in a different way. I needed to be able to say how badly I felt, how scared I was, how angry I was, without some Pollyanna saying, "It will all be better tomorrow," or, "Let's focus on the positive," etc. Let the person you are caring for vent. Just listen and offer them your love and friendship. And then go get someone to listen to you vent!" - Hollis_Walker

5. Keep track of side effects and be observant to see if there is something they are not telling you.

6. Attend doctor visits with the patient so you can listen, ask questions, and be there for moral support. 

7. Don't forget to spend quality time with your loved one where you are not focused on cancer. 

Kalindria Grandson

8. Vocalize how much you care about them.

9. Do not smother your loved one. Give them alone time when they need it and if you are not sure if they need it, ask.

10. Try to do specific things around the house that will be helpful i.e. making the bed, preparing small meals, running to the grocery store, tidying their room.

11. Let them do for themselves what they can.

Melanoma Hiking

12. Learn to turn off the caregiver role when out of the presence of the patient. 

13. Remember to take some time for yourself to prevent burn out and resentment.

"Make sure to get out. Walk/run/ride your bike. Meet up with friends. Read that book. Draw/paint. You must recharge. Your patient understands."- Yorkleeann

14. If someone else offers help, take it. You do not have to do everything alone.

15. Live day by day. 


"Live in the moment as best you can. There will be good days, bad days, and worse days, and they can change up faster than a major league pitcher. Just keep going, and cut yourself a lot of slack. You are doing the best you can." - Ejourneys

As a caregiver, what are some words of wisdom you would pass on?

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