Other Types of Support

What Other Types of Support Can I Provide My Loved One?

Caregiving is more than the physical support of caring for someone under medical treatment. There are emotional and practical types of support you can offer, too.

Emotional Support

Caregivers can help seek appropriate emotional and psychological care for their loved one. When emotional and psychological issues are not addressed, they reduce quality of life, impair social relationships, increase rehabilitation time, and affect treatment adherence.

About 50% of patients with cancer experience psychiatric problems, including severe emotional distress. Care might include a mental health professional, a support group, a peer mentor—or all three. Check for resources at the cancer center where your loved one is being treated.

A common concern of cancer patients is fear of abandonment. You can reassure your loved one that s/he is not alone in this journey. Patients who believe their personal support system is inadequate are more likely to experience emotional problems and more physical symptoms. Compassion and support positively affect your loved one’s outlook.

Addressing Financial Issues

Cancer therapies can be expensive; insurance requirements can be daunting. As a caregiver, you can help navigate these issues.

Even with excellent insurance coverage, the communication and payment processes are extensive. It will undoubtedly be a relief if you can help your loved one with any piece of the process.

If the cost of therapy is problematic, patients with commercial insurance can often receive co-pay assistance from the drug manufacturer. If your loved one has insurance through a federal or state insurance program, s/he can’t receive financial assistance from the drug manufacturer; however, s/he may be eligible for co-pay assistance from an independent charitable organization. If your loved one is not insured, s/he may be eligible for free medications through drug manufacturers, charitable organizations, or designated hospitals, depending on income.

Other financial considerations you might encounter include lost income, both for you and your loved one. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Please read here for more information about the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Addressing Advanced Planning 

For a small subset of patients with nonmelanoma skin cancer, the disease can be debilitating and even life-threatening. While the oncology team is working to achieve the best outcome from therapy, it’s impossible to predict if, and when, things may not go as hoped.

Your loved one may want to discuss different scenarios with you to make sure their wishes are met as much as possible during the cancer journey. Advanced planning can include choosing a healthcare proxy; making an advanced directive; addressing a will; and assessing under what circumstances your loved one would want to withdraw care and move on to hospice. It’s important to encourage your loved one to do this planning when s/he is feeling well. This subject can be touchy, particularly if the caregiver is in the will. However, if this type of planning is delayed, your loved one may not be well enough to make the decisions thoughtfully. If your loved one doesn’t have a chance to do any planning at all, there can be unnecessary additional stress and confusion for everyone involved.