Tips for Caregivers of Lung Disease/Lung Cancer Patients

Caring for someone with lung cancer, or any chronic illness, is one of the greatest expressions of love. Putting aside the busyness of life to care for one less fortunate can be incredibly rewarding. There are few things we do in our day-to-day lives that benefit another as much. It can also be draining. Doing too much without the support of others can create feelings of resentment that linger long after the crisis is over. What can caregivers do to care for themselves, while they care for others? (Lynne Eldridge, M.D.)

Maintain a Sense of Humor
Watch a funny movie. Recall amusing memories. Compare the nurses and doctors around you to your favorite cartoon characters! Cancer is a serious, scary disease, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Check out books such as Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, The Funny Side of Lung Cancer or Smilies Are Naturally Bald. Laugh – but be sensitive. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn.

Maintain Your Boundaries
Give as you can but know your limits. Stop periodically and think about your giving. Are you feeling pleasure in your efforts? Giving beyond your ability and sacrificing your own needs may leave you feeling resentful and bitter.

Keep a Journal
Writing a journal can be a great way to express those thoughts and feelings you can’t share openly. Checking back over your entries can also help you monitor your stress level and know if you are overextending yourself.

Educate Yourself
Learning as much as you can about your loved ones illness can help you understand more about what they are going through. It can also prepare you – a bit – for some of the inevitable bumps in the road.

Pamper Yourself
Take a bath. Indulge in a massage. Listen to your favorite music. Read an uplifiting or inspirational book. Take time to maintain your friendships. Caring for another does not mean giving up your own needs and desires.

Take Care of Yourself
Getting adequate rest, exercise, and good nutrition are more important than ever when you are caring for another. For those who feel guilty considering their own needs important, consider what you would hope for if the situation were reversed.

  • Get some exercise
    You may feel better and sleep better if you exercise. One way is to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. Experts say to aim for at least 2 hours of moderate activity a week.
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks
    When you are busy giving care, it may seem easier to eat fast food than to prepare healthy meals. But healthy meals are easy to prepare, and healthy eating will give you more energy to carry you through each day.
  • Get enough sleep
    If you are not getting enough sleep at night, take a nap during the day. Plan to get at least one full night's rest each week.
  • Make time for an activity you enjoy
    This could include Reading, listening to music, painting or doing crafts, playing an instrument-even if you can only do it for a few minutes a day. If you like to go to church activities or take classes, ask a friend or family member to stay with your loved one for an hour or two one or two times a week so you can do those things.
  • Get regular medical checkups
    This includes dental checkups. Even if you have always been healthy, you need to stay healthy. Know about the signs of depression, and watch for them not only in the person you are caring for but also in yourself. If you have feelings of lingering sadness or hopelessness, talk with your doctor. For more information, see the topic Depression.


My Fighting for Air Community

How are you doing? How can I help? My Fighting for Air Community is a great way to support people living with lung disease and their families by organizing helpers and coordinating volunteers and activities in a way that can be a real “life-saver” for those who can truly use a helping hand.

The American Lung Association is proud to offer My Fighting for Air Community, a free and simple way for people with lung disease and their families to receive support from a personally created community of their family, friends, neighbors and others who care about them. Users can create private, secure My Fighting for Air Community web pages that offer two primary services and continued access to all the American Lung Association information and resources.

Families can post photos and journal entries to keep loved ones updated on medical matters and other aspects of their lives. It’s a great way to update everyone at once, and a real time and energy saver for those who are living with lung disease.

The “care coordination calendar” is a wonderful tool where you can post a list of items for which help is needed, such as transportation, meals, household chores and just taking a break. That way family, friends and others who care can sign up to help.

Privacy and security settings allow you to decide who is permitted access to your own My Fighting for Air Community.