A new study from Baylor College of Medicine gives a recipe to support cancer caregivers. Caregiving for a family member or close friend with cancer can be hard. And it can be even more demanding for those who are employed. It is difficult to juggle work responsibilities while providing mesothelioma care.
A new article in the Cancers journal highlights resources to support these caregivers. They describe the financial, work, and mental health impacts of cancer care. They provide tips for employers, healthcare, and community-based organizations to support these caregivers.
The Experience of Employed Cancer Caregivers
Individuals with mesothelioma most usually rely on their informal caregivers. Informal caregivers are usually the patient’s spouse or partner, a family member, or a close friend. These caregivers often help the patient to manage the disease and its treatment.
Caregiving includes helping with patient care, household chores, and providing emotional support. This can be very demanding for employed caregivers. These people must juggle both their work responsibilities and the needs of the patient.
Many people have expressed the toll that balancing these competing demands can take on caregivers. And yet there are very few resources to support employed cancer caregivers.
“We found that employed caregivers experience significant financial impacts in terms of lost time and income. They also experience a variety of work-related (e.g., reduced productivity, absenteeism) and mental health (e.g., stress, burden) impacts.” Ellen Xiang from the Section of Epidemiology and Population Science says.
Support needs often change at different time points along the cancer care timeline. In other words, support needs are different at diagnosis, during treatment, and at end-of-life.
This is an important finding for those looking to support employed caregivers. New support strategies can be developed to provide good support at different time points.
A Recipe for Recommended Support Options
A multifaceted support program should be developed for employed caregivers. Often employers, healthcare, and community-based organizations are looking to support these caregivers.
Previous data has shown that cancer caregiving results in significant financial costs. This comes in terms of both lost time and income. Employed caregivers often make decisions to exit the workforce or make work modifications. They also experience mental health impacts including depression and social isolation.
Recommendations for workplace accommodations include return-to-work planning, training and education. Each with a goal to empower caregivers to advocate for their needs. Also there is an important need to connect caregivers to community resources to fill unmet needs.
A multifaceted response by employers, healthcare, and community stakeholders is important. This is an important recipe to support and empower cancer caregivers.
Xiang, Ellen, Patricia Guzman, Martha Mims, and Hoda Badr. “Balancing Work and Cancer Care: Challenges Faced by Employed Informal Caregivers.” Cancers 14, no. 17 (2022): 4146. https://www.mdpi.com/1798396