What It Means to Be a Care Partner
Being a care partner for a woman with ovarian cancer can mean many different things. What is needed depends on where she is in her treatment and how she is feeling physically and emotionally. She may need someone to hold her hand at the doctor appointment, pick up a few groceries, or simply need someone to talk to. Additionally, her needs may change over time.
A care partner is
- A companion, a helper, and a sounding board
- Someone who provides physical and emotional support
- An essential member of an ovarian cancer patient’s care team
Recognizing care partner fatigue
While being a care partner can be rewarding, it’s normal for a care partner to feel overwhelmed at times. Many care partners experience stress related to their role. Care partner fatigue, the long-term effect of that stress, can be easy to miss.
Signs of care partner fatigue include:
- Changes in sleep, such as sleeping too much or too little
- Feeling worried or overwhelmed constantly
- Changes in eating habits
- Losing interest in activities that used to bring joy
- Feeling sad or depressed regularly
- Frequent headaches
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication
- Delaying personal health needs
If you believe you or a care partner may have depression, seek professional help.
In a survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving, over 50% of care partners reported moderate to high stress. Risks can increase if a care partner already has depression, lives with the woman whom he or she cares for, is socially isolated, has financial difficulties, and/or provides long-term care. The good news is that there are many ways to address and prevent care partner fatigue.
If you think you have care partner fatigue
Accept your feelings
Give yourself permission to feel a full range of emotions
Take a break
Schedule regular breaks and take some time out for yourself
Ask friends and family for help and accept when it is offered
Talk to someone
Share your feelings with loved ones or join a support group
Participate in physical and recreational activities
Make a plan
Write down your self-care goals and take steps towards achieving them