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Providing Practical Support for a Loved One with Lymphoma

How to provide practical support for a loved one with Hodgkin lymphoma while avoiding caregiver burnout.

Providing Practical Support for a Loved One with Lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system. The most common type is known as classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When a loved one is diagnosed with classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you may find yourself taking on the role of a caregiver.

Caregiving typically falls into two broad categories—emotional and practical. Emotional support involves things like being there to listen, providing comfort, or just providing a distraction from everything that is going on. Practical support can mean anything from helping out with daily activities like cooking and laundry, to scheduling and attending appointments and monitoring treatment.

Here, we look at strategies for providing practical support, as well as tips to avoid caregiver burnout.

Practical caregiving
Practical support can help a loved one prioritize what’s important—getting well. Keep in mind that practical support will vary from person to person—different people need help in different ways. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Errands. Running errands can be a great help to a person living with cancer. This may include things like grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions.
  • Chores. Consider ways you can help around the home. This includes things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, or taking a dog for a walk. It can also include things like helping a loved one stay organized.
  • Childcare. If your loved one has a family of their own, they may need help picking children up from school or activities, or they may need a hand when it comes to watching the kids while they attend appointments or just need a break.
  • Help with treatment. Some caregivers may also be involved in a loved one’s treatment. This can mean everything from filling prescriptions, to scheduling appointments, to monitoring and reporting side effects, to being involved in treatment decisions. If you are involved with treatment, it helps to meet your loved one’s healthcare team and know how to contact them.

Avoiding caregiver burnout
When you are acting as a caregiver, it can be easy to overcommit and take on too much. Overcommitting can quickly take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. This is known as caregiver burnout.

Here are some strategies for avoiding caregiver burnout:

  • Be realistic. Assess everything that is going on in your life and be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other friends and family members.
  • Take a break. You will need a break from caregiving activities from time to time. In some cases, this may mean a few hours, and in other cases it may mean a longer break. Again, be honest, be realistic, and ask others for help.
  • Make time for yourself. Don’t lose sight of the things that are important to you or the things you need to stay healthy. These include eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, and keeping up with your own healthcare appointments. It should also include hobbies, maintaining friendships, and time to relax. Your loved one will feel less guilty about all of the demands on your plate if they see that you’re staying healthy and making time for yourself.
  • Seek support. Counseling and support groups are often recommended for people with cancer, but they are also valuable to caregivers.

Remember that your role as a caregiver can have a major impact on your loved one who is living with lymphoma.

Medically reviewed in February 2021.

Sources:
American Cancer Society. "What Is Hodgkin Lymphoma?"
National Cancer Institute. "Support for Caregivers of Cancer Patients."
American Cancer Society. "What Is a Cancer Caregiver?"
Lymphoma Action. "Caring for someone who has lymphoma."
American Cancer Society. "How to Communicate as a Caregiver."
Cleveland Clinic. "Caregiver Burnout."

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