Although caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it can also be quite overwhelming as there are so many things you need to remember and do for your cancer patient.
While self care is pivotal to enable you to continue to give of your best it's easy to get completely consumed by your caring duties at great personal cost.
Apps can be extremely useful to help you to juggle your daily responsibilities and to remove some of the stress that goes hand in hand with caring. Dr Lucienne van Schalkwyk, a general surgeon with a special interest in breast surgery, and medical IT enthusiast Dominic van Loggerenberg check out some of the best user-friendly apps that will keep you and your patient on track.
As a caregiver of a loved one with cancer, it's important for you to take care of your own health too. Neglecting your health may have serious long-term consequences, so be sure to check for and keep track of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. You can also use an app to help set reminders to schedule the health screening tests ('check-up' tests such as checking your blood pressure, visiting the dentist, having a mammogram etc.) that you need. Remember that the type of test and how often it should be done depends on your personal profile - your age, gender, family history etc. - and that apps only offer general guidelines. And they're not a replacement for your trusted medical practitioner so always seek professional advice.
Caregivers faced with the physical, emotional and financial stress of caring for a cancer patient are at a high risk of developing anxiety and depression. Mindfulness, the state of focusing your awareness on the present, has taken the world by storm, with its reported benefits including an increased feeling of calm, clarity and well-being, as well as the alleviation of pain and insomnia. Mindfulness-based apps can monitor your mood and stress levels, send you daily inspirational messages and offer short guided meditation videos and relaxation techniques that may benefit both you and your patient.
Stay in touch
Staying in touch with friends, family members and other caregivers is made easy by using apps. Post updates on your loved one's condition, keep a journal, post photographs and read messages of support posted by members of the group.
It's essential to take medication as prescribed, and the responsibility for managing medication often falls to caregivers. Never miss a scheduled dose again – for both you and your patient - with helpful pill reminder apps. These handy 'nurse in your pocket' apps will alert you when a dose is due, how much of the medication is to be taken and will even remind you when the prescription is due for a refill.
- Medicine tracker: Never forget to take your medicine. Get reminders on your phone and stay on track with your prescribed medicine. Download the Discovery app to access the Medicine tracker
- Pill Alert Pro
- Med Helper
Spread cancer awareness and show your support for your loved one with cancer by decorating your texts and photographs with digital cancer awareness stickers. These digital decorations are available in all shapes and sizes and for many different kinds of cancer. As an added bonus, the funds raised from the sale of these stickers are donated to cancer awareness.
Don't forget the children
A cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, young and old alike - and it may be very difficult to explain to young children what's going on. They may want to know what cancer is, what it means, why their family member has it and what can be done. The Kids' Guide to Cancer app contains resources that will help you to freely discuss the diagnosis with children in an age-appropriate way, without scaring or confusing them, and will open the door for you to explain to them how they can also help with care.
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