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10 Tips for Care Partners

Being a care partner can be an emotional journey that requires some assistance.

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Many doctors may not be familiar with all of the conditions that GLEEVEC® (imatinib mesylate) tablets is approved to treat. In order to be an advocate for your loved one, it's important for you to understand as much as you can about the condition that he or she is living with. For example, make an effort to learn about the risk of your loved one's disease returning after surgery and treatment options.

A main reason patients don't ask for help is that they do not want to be a burden to their loved ones. They can feel overwhelmed, may not know what to ask for, and/or don't want to inconvenience their loved ones. 


Plan ahead and offer to take on specific tasks that may cause your loved one fatigue or stress. You can also coordinate a schedule with family and friends so tasks are divided efficiently (and you can get a break). 

Many people living with a serious condition feel emotionally fine until right before a doctor visit. Waiting for test results can be extremely stressful. This may also make it difficult to absorb everything the doctor is saying. As a care partner, you can help ask questions, clarify instructions, be an advocate, or just be a shoulder to lean on. 


Time is limited in a doctor visit. Making a list of questions ahead of time not only captures all of your concerns, but it helps to keep the conversation concise. If you need more time, make a separate appointment with the doctor to follow up. 


Be sure to bring a pen and paper, or use your mobile device to record notes during the visit. 

The more you know about the treatment plan, the bigger a support you can be. You can remind your loved one when to take his or her medication or assist with recognizing and managing side effects. As always, consult your loved one's health care team on how you can best assist with treatment.

Don't wait for an emergency. Gather the necessary contact numbers for your loved one's health care team, family, and friends. Put their contact information in your cell phone, as well as in a place that's easy for you and others to access.

Writing a to-do list can help coordinate the needs of your loved one and yourself, but it can also be helpful to make a to-do list for other family members and friends who ask, "How can I help?" For example, a supermarket shopping list could be shared among multiple people who want to pitch in. You can also write down your loved one's favorite meals so that others can prepare them. 

Managing doctors' appointments, prescriptions, and medical records is a common challenge for patients. Staying organized can reduce a lot of stress. Keep a folder with copies of all health care information (including test results, prescriptions, insurance, and/or Medicare paperwork), which can be shared easily with doctors and nurses on a regular basis.

Keeping friends and family updated on your loved one's health can be exhausting for both of you. But there are several personal, secure websites that can help your loved one stay in touch more easily., and are 3 examples. These sites can help you and your loved one avoid telling the same story over and over, reliving your experience with each retelling. Discuss which topics your loved one wants to share and how involved they want to be, and agree on a contact list of people to invite to your network. 


Your loved one may feel fatigued and may not feel like socializing or they may not be able to appreciate a meal that was cooked with care because of digestive problems they might be experiencing. What people may offer as acts of kindness may not be as enjoyed as expected. Be sensitive to the changing needs of your loved one. Help family and friends understand your loved one's limitations. 

You and your loved one will spend a lot of time focused on the condition and its treatment. It's important to set aside time just to enjoy each other's company during activities that don't involve managing cancer. This is a nice way to reassure your loved one that you are by their side no matter what. 

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