Caring for the Caregiver

During cancer treatment, the main focus is on the patient. However, a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family, including caregivers. A caregiver is any person who supports a patient during treatment; this can be a spouse, partner, sibling, son, daughter, or friend. Taking on the role of a caregiver can change the dynamic in a relationship.

Partners who were once equals can now have an imbalance and a child can often need to take on a parental role. Often the caregiver’s needs can be overlooked. It is important for the caregiver to keep their body and mind healthy in order to provide the best care to the patient. While this seems easier to say than do, working in some self-care does not have to take a lot of time or money.

Ways to put yourself first:

Let go of guilt. It is natural to feel guilty for taking time for yourself when your loved one needs so much. Try to remember why all airlines instruct passengers to put their own oxygen mask on first before helping others. The reason behind this is simple: You cannot care for someone else when you are depleted. It is important to acknowledge guilty feelings and find a safe place to share them, but do not allow them to stop you from caring for yourself.

Build in fun. Create a list of activities that make you happy. Playing your favorite song, taking a bubble bath, or going for a walk are just some of the possibilities.

Relax. Simple breathing exercises, guided imagery, meditation, and proper sleep habits. There’s even an app for that! You can download apps like Headspace and Calm to help guide you in relaxation practice.

Self-compassion. Cut yourself some slack! When you care for yourself and a loved one, it is normal to experience stress. Recognizing this stress in a non-judgmental way and taking small steps to combat it is the first step in self-care.

Your oncology social worker is there to help patients and caregivers, and we can help you make a personalized plan to cope with the challenges of being a caregiver.

Children’s of Alabama Hosts Special Presentation on Child Health with Princeton University and the Brookings Institute

Children's Hospital of Alabama May the 4th Be With You -Facebook
Children’s Hospital of Alabama May the 4th Be With You -Facebook

BIRMINGHAM – Children’s of Alabama will welcome the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Brookings Institute to Birmingham to present Volume 25 Number 1 Spring 2015 of The Future of Children, Policies to Promote Child Health. This collaboration of two world-class institutions is aimed at translating the best social science research about children and youth into information that is useful to policymakers, practitioners, grant-makers, advocates, the media and students of public policy.

Nancy Reichman, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University and a visiting professor in the department of economics at Princeton University, will present an overview of the chapter “How Healthy Are Our Children?” to the Children’s medical staff during Grand Rounds at noon on Thursday, July 9. Reichman’s presentation will summarize the health of America’s children and the role and extent of government investments in children that are examined in the chapter that was written by Sara Rosenbaum of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University and Robert Blum of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins.

Following Grand Rounds, Reichman will present an overview to attendees of an afternoon conference and will be joined by James Ziliak, PhD, founding director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, who will present the findings from the chapter on Food Assistance Program and Child Health written by Craig Gundersen of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois.

Ziliak will also lead a panel discussion featuring child nutrition programs that are working to improve child health. Panel members include Grant Brigham, executive director of the Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham; Stephanie Cihon of ProMedica, a non-profit health care system headquartered in Toledo, Ohio; Harriet Giles, managing director of the Hunger Solutions Institute and director of external relations in the College of Human Sciences, Auburn University; Dave Reaney, executive director at Bay Area Food Bank in Mobile; and Margaret Morton, ‎executive director of the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, Inc.

This presentation of The Future of Children marks the first time the journal has been unveiled in a pediatric hospital.

“We are proud and honored to host this great event here at Children’s,” said president and CEO Mike Warren. “For more than 100 years, our mission has been to serve as advocates for all children and to educate the public about issues affecting children’s health and well-being. Having a role in the presentation of the important child health research published in the latest volume of The Future of Children embodies those efforts to meet the health care needs of all children and to serve as advocates on their behalf.”

The first joint Future of Children journal was published in 2005. Each covers a single issue relating to children. Two journals and policy briefs are published each year, and are complemented by a variety of related outreach events including numerous activities and conferences, an active website, a blog and webcasts of many of the outreach presentations. Topics range widely—from income policy to family issues to education to health—with children’s policy as the unifying element.

The senior editorial team represents two institutions and multiple disciplines. Editor-in-Chief Sara McLanahan is the director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

Senior editors include Ron Haskins, senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, and a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Katzman-Ernst Professor in the Economics of education and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University; Janet Currie, director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing and Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; and Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow, and co-director of the Center on Children and Families and Cabot Family Chair at the Brookings Institution.

The Future of Children is supported by staff at both Princeton and Brookings. Associate editor Kris McDonald and managing editor Jon Wallace oversee the project; Lisa Markman-Pithers and Reid Quade organize outreach activities; and Regina Leidy coordinates communications.

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that strengthen American democracy, foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans and secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system. Brookings is consistently ranked as the most influential, most quoted and most trusted think tank in the world.

Chartered in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. It is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students.

Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation by US News & World Report, Children’s provided care for youngsters from every county in Alabama, 42 other states and 10 foreign countries last year, representing more than 653,000 outpatient visits and nearly 14,000 inpatient admissions.

With more than 2 million square feet, it is the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. Children’s offers inpatient and outpatient services across its Russell Campus on Birmingham’s historic Southside with additional specialty services provided at Children’s South, Children’s on 3rd and in Huntsville and Montgomery. Primary care is provided at more than a dozen medical offices in communities across central Alabama.

Children’s of Alabama is the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. It is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. More information is available at www.childrensal.org.

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