April 15, 2022

Tips for finding extra help during cancer treatments

Elderly woman being helped at home by nurse.

A cancer diagnosis, and the necessary treatments and lifestyle changes, are tough enough to handle on their own.

The fatigue that often comes with treatment means sometimes you need extra help, even with something as simple as mowing the lawn, cleaning your home or cooking meals.

Stacey Martens, a social worker with the UW Carbone Cancer Center and UW Health, said she often speaks with cancer patients about ideas of good places to look for extra assistance.

Household chore help

Generally, the easiest option for some help around the house or to do yard work is to see if friends and family can step in when needed. However, that’s not always feasible or preferred.

“A lot of times people say they don’t want to burden their friends,” Martens said.

Patients can look beyond that obvious circle of support and consider asking for help from neighbors, fellow church members or community groups they belong to. People may be surprised how many of those acquaintances would be willing to help.

Another community-focused resource Martens recommends is Lotsa Helping Hands. The free service lets people create an online hub to divvy up help that’s needed, and it can be a less intimidating way to let loved ones decide how best they can lend assistance

“That can be a huge help,” she said of that service.

In-home care

For those seeking more than just the occasional chore help, or those who want at-home medical care, Martens cautioned patients to evaluate what the best option would be for their needs and their budget.

A great starting point would be to consult the local Aging and Disability Resource Center. These state-funded service centers work with older adults, disabled adults and caregivers to help them find necessary services for their needs. ADRC can be especially helpful for those with limited finances, and every county in the state has access to an ADRC hub.

“ADRC is a wonderful wealth of information for people,” Martens said.

Assisted living and supported apartments could also be a good option for patients who want more consistent caretaker attention, though costs are a factor to weigh carefully. Martens said she directs people to A Place For Mom, which is a free service that connects people to an advisor who can help evaluate the best home care, assisted living or skilled nursing options locally for senior citizens.

Martens said people should carefully consider all options and feel free to consult their social workers on the best ways to address their needs.