Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Who is a Caregiver?

Caregivers are friends, spouses, or children who provide assistance to their loved one with the best of their ability regardless of financial benefit. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the first community-based non-profit organization focused on addressing the needs of caregivers, it is estimated that more than 65 million people in the United States provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. Caregivers are a necessary extension of the healthcare team. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, assuming the role of caregiver, whether you’re a family member or friend, has its unique challenges.

As the survivorship movement continues to flourish, nationally-recognized organizations like the National Cancer Institute (NCI) acknowledge the important role caregivers play in a survivor’s life. In their definition of survivorship, the NCI includes anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis until the end of life, as well as family, friends, and caregivers of survivors who are impacted by the diagnosis.

In 2010, the American Cancer Society completed an innovative eight year study entitled “National Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers”. This first of its kind long-term, nationwide study highlighted several findings regarding caregivers. An updated follow-up study, "Follow-up of the National Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers", was conducted in 2016 with the caregivers, finding the following:

  1. Caregiving is demanding.

  2. Caregivers may have unrealistic expectations of the cancer experience.

  3. Fear of recurrence and uncertainty is a two-way street.

  4. Caregivers should focus on their mental, physical, and spiritual health.

  5. Caregivers need a strong support system.

Important research such as this further emphasizes the significant role of national organizations like the Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Alliance for Caregiving that focus on information, resources, and support for caregivers. 

Last Updated: 6/22/2021 11:53:26 AM

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