COVID-19 Changes for Caregivers

We know COVID-19 has made a difficult situation even more challenging. Please know that we are doing everything we can to keep our high-risk patients and our staff safe by following public health guidelines. Because of this, we must continue to have strict visitor policies for physical distancing throughout the clinic.

The button below provides a source of some ideas on how caregivers can still participate in their loved one’s cancer care and appointments.

Caring for the Cancer Caregiver

Caring for a loved one battling cancer takes energy, emotional balance and at times physical strength. You may be wondering how to best support your parent or friend while still maintaining a sense of self. How can you find caregiver resources that can provide the support and assistance you need for both you and your spouse or adult child?

The following links provide select resources recommended by our team. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please contact one of our Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers oncology (RMCC) social worker who will be happy to provide further assistance.

Support for Your Physical Well-Being

Maintaining your physical well-being and strength may seem impossible with all the time and energy it takes being a caregiver. The following resources can help you with ideas and resources for staying physically engaged with the world around you, providing you the strength to care for your loved one.

Please remember to connect with a primary care provider and follow up with your own health care needs. If you need assistance with resources in your area, please contact your RMCC social worker.

  • 9Health Fair provides an opportunity for access to low-cost health care. They believe that “getting the care you need, when you need it, isn’t too much to ask.
  • eXtension: Family Caregiving Online Learning Center
  • PEAK: Find out if you and your family members are eligible for Medicaid and or other public assistance programs.
  • Connect for Health Colorado: Find out if you are eligible for discounted health insurance

Emotional Support

Being a caregiver can sometimes leave you feeling isolated and emotionally depleted. The following resources can provide you support and ideas for fostering a healthy emotional balance for all you do while caring for your loved one.

Our social workers are available to assist you by providing counseling and to connect you with appropriate resources in your area. Please contact your local RMCC location to be connected with a licensed social worker at your loved one’s treatment location during business hours. If you are experiencing an emergency please do not leave a message, but call 911.

Social Support

Connecting with others and acquiring time for yourself may seem impossible. Getting help with practical things can provide you the gift of time.

  • Reduce stress, anxiety and isolation – Your cancer experience is personal. Let your family and friends know how you’re doing. Make life easier by assigning family and friends as Care Coordinators to help manage your site and organize volunteers. Organize volunteers to help with meals, rides to treatment, errands, child care, pet care, and more. Access resources on financial issues, health insurance, treatment options, clinical trials, diagnoses, nutrition, and much more.  Privacy is critical. Ensure the right people have access to comment on your site and volunteer to help you.
  • Meal Delivery Greater Denver Metro area and Colorado Springs: Project Angel Heart, 303-630-0202 or 800-381-5612
  • Boulder County: Meals on Wheels, 303-772-0540
  • Transportation: American Cancer Society, 800-227-2345
  • Getting There Guide: Information on transportation services in the Denver Metro Area
    Professional cleaning services to provide basic house cleaning for women with cancer. Check Cleaning for a Reason for availability in your area.
  • Resources in Boulder County.
  • Mile High United Way (Dial 2-1-1 from local area for information on many local resources. Your may also call 303-561-2111 or 866-760-6489.)

Caring for Your Spirit

Spirituality has different meanings for everyone, but what most people can agree with is that it can refer to the way an individual connects with and expresses meaning and purpose in one’s life. Sometimes as a caregiver it is difficult to have time to reflect on what is nurturing to you. Please feel free to contact your RMCC social worker to get information on local resources in your area.

Some helpful interventions include: meditation, guided visualization, relaxation techniques, journaling, spending time in nature or connecting with a spiritual care provider.

If you would like to connect with someone who provides spiritual counseling, often a good place to start is by contacting your local hospital and asking to speak to someone in pastoral care/chaplain services. They can connect you with a non-denominational chaplain who can assist you and/or connect you with support or someone in your area affiliated with an organization of your choice.

Ways to Provide Support and Be a Better Caregiver

As a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to best support your loved one on this journey. While we recognize that each caregiver is as unique as each patient, here are some valuable ways you can support your loved one on both a practical and emotional level:

  • Learn to “speak cancer": Learning to speak the unique language of cancer empowers you to be part of the conversations with medical providers. You will be a stronger companion and champion for the patient if you understand the terms used when symptoms, treatments, and scans are discussed. At medical appointments, you can ask more educated questions and better understand what the doctor is telling you.
  • You are not alone —Engage your network: Utilize communication and organization tools to involve others in circles of care.
  • Find a balance between doing and being: Instead of asking “How do you feel today?” you might consider asking your loved one “How can I help you today?” in order to proactively and collaboratively engage in care. Though you naturally want to ease the patient’s pain and suffering, sometimes the only—and best—gift you can give him or her is to be a comforting presence and simply be still and listen.
  • Preserve your own identity and boundaries: It hurts to see your loved one in pain, but the patient’s suffering is distinct and different from yours. It’s OK to empathize, but immersing yourself in pain will not ease the patient’s suffering. It will only make you a less effective caregiver.

Additional Resources for Senior Cancer Caregivers

Caregiving as an older adult can pose numerous challenges. It can leave you feeling very isolated and confused about where to find help for both you and your loved one. The following resources can assist you in many aspects of your caregiving journey.