If someone you love is living with Hodgkin lymphoma, there are many ways you can offer support during their time of need. Although you might not consider yourself to be a “caregiver,” if you’re helping another person who has a serious or chronic health condition, without accepting any payment, this title applies to you.
Some caregivers live with the person they’re supporting, while others provide support remotely by talking on the phone or running errands. No matter what your situation, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different ways you can be there for your loved one as a caregiver. Here are five important ways that you can provide support.
1. Physical support
Physical support involves helping your loved one with physical or hygiene-related tasks that they may not be able to do on their own. Depending on the stage of their condition, this could range from helping them take their medication to assisting them with things like bathing or shaving.
Providing physical support to someone with Hodgkin lymphoma also includes helping them monitor and manage their symptoms, especially after they’ve finished their treatment. If you notice that they appear to be fatigued or itchy, their lymph nodes look swollen, or they seem to be losing weight, try to gently bring these symptoms to their attention. This encourages them to talk about these specific symptoms with their doctor.
If you accompany your loved one to see their doctor, you can also bring up any issues you’ve noticed.
2. Emotional support
Emotional support can be anything from chatting with your loved one on the phone to going with them to one of their appointments. Having a strong system of emotional support can lead to improvements in outlook and quality of life.
Even if the person you’re supporting doesn’t seem to want to talk about their condition or how they’re feeling, just knowing that you’re there and willing to listen can make a big difference. Remember that you don’t always have to focus on your loved one’s medical situation. Sometimes discussing other things can help distract from the anxiety that their condition might cause them.
3. Practical support
Providing “practical support” refers to helping your loved one with any errands and administrative duties that may be needed. It can include cleaning their living space, providing transportation to medical appointments, communicating with their doctor, and handling their insurance and finances.
Although these tasks may seem minor, practical support is one of the most useful ways you can assist your loved one as a caregiver. It’s likely that they’re experiencing a lot of stress as a result of their condition, and ensuring that they don’t also have to worry about the little things can help to ease their mind.
4. Social support
Social support involves organizing recreational activities for your loved one and planning visits for them to have with friends. Having a serious health condition can be an isolating experience for many people. Helping your loved one to maintain a sense of community can go a long way when it comes to keeping a positive outlook.
Be mindful of the fact that some people may feel awkwardness about how to behave around a person with cancer. Do your best to normalize the situation by encouraging your loved one to take an active role in the conversation, if possible.
Make sure that you take good care of yourself too. Acting as a caregiver requires both physical and emotional energy. If you overextend yourself, your exhaustion could impact your ability to provide useful support.
Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising, and make sure you take some time for yourself every day to relax and decompress. Caring for a loved one with Hodgkin lymphoma doesn’t mean you need to put your life completely on hold. Try to spend time with other people and keep up with your own personal interests. The better you feel, the better you’ll be able to provide support.
Acting as a caregiver for someone with Hodgkin lymphoma can be challenging at times, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Remember that you’re not alone, and that you can turn to friends, family, or your loved one’s healthcare team for help if you start to feel overwhelmed.
Organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also provide resources for caregivers, so be sure to take advantage of these services if you feel like they might be beneficial.
Never forget, your support is making a huge difference in your loved one’s life.