Saudi Arabia/World: Cancer – How to be a Good Caregiver

nb:  this is the first of posts American Bedu will be writing on cancer with an emphasis on the cultural customs and treatment of cancer in Saudi Arabia .

Cancer continues to be on the increase in Saudi Arabia.  As a result, more recently diagnosed cancer patients are going to require a caregiver while they undergo treatment. To begin with, anyone who cares about the cancer patient can be a caregiver.  A caregiver can be a mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter and anyone who cares.  Some housemaids have also been known to help out as caregivers too.

A caregiver has a responsible job in overseeing the needs of the patient which are not available or met by the medical team.  As a result, the caregiver is going to be very close to the patient and cognizant of the patient’s condition.  The caregiver will make sure that a reluctant or scared patient is going to make his or her appointments.  Prior to doctor appointments, I recommend that the caregiver talk with the patient while keeping a log noting down questions, fears as well as documenting the stats of the patient with an emphasis on when and what he or she eats as well as details of the overall routine in place.

The caregivers job of attending and supporting a loved one with cancer is not an easy role to take. It is both an emotional and logistical role.  The caregiver will know when and how far to push (ie, strongly encourage) the patient to eat, drink or exercise, keeping in mind that the patient in treatment will feel very fatigued and may not have an appetite. The caregiver’s role, and especially so in Saudi Arabia, is that of the gate keeper.  The cancer patient is immuno-suppressed and can’t take the risk of exposure to germs or colds or flu or dirt.  The caregiver must be able to keep people with coughs, sniffles and other symptoms of sickness away from the patient. Although a sensitive subject to bring up in Saudi Arabia, strong perfume or smells of smoke can make a cancer patient ill and nauseous.  The caregiver will need to ensure that family and other visitors understand the need to take all precautions to prevent the patient from risk of infection, illness or adding to his or her discomfort by scents and smells. The caregiver has to be a firm and strong individual.  The caregiver may have to limit the amount of visitors who see the patient at one time and what visitors may wish to give a patient.

It is not always easy to be a caregiver in Saudi Arabia.  Women will come into a patient’s room to see their loved one wearing a trailing abaya.  They probably have not realized the long hem of the abaya can drag dust and dirt on its long hem into the patient’s room. It will up to the caregiver to persuade these women to change from the abaya into a long and clean sterilized gown in order to protect the patient.  Avoid having too many guests in the patient’s room at one time.  Do not be afraid or shy when to tell visitors to leave as the patient needs lots of rest.

The more informed a caregiver is about the type of cancer a patient has the better empowered the caregiver will be to take the best loving care of the patient.

7 Responses

  1. saudis can be so sensitive. they get all offended if you tell them this or that just to protect them. they just say ‘inshaAllah’ and leave it at that.

  2. I think it is important for caregivers to all get involved in the discussions with medical personnel and be totally involved in care, inspite of the best doctors caregivers are the patients advocate,researchers, helper and friend. it is a big responsibility and had far reaching effects in the life of the patient.

  3. I wish hospitals in Saudi would help enforce some sort of order in patients rooms. Too many people, late into the night- no one listens to the caretaker.

    And yes, a caretaker should always be and advocate and do some research. In my own family both American and Saudi- family advocacy has been a force for health and wellness rather than disaster.

  4. Saudis need to become more familiar with the concept of a caregiver and his /her responsibilities. Caregivers can make life much more relaxing for the patient.

  5. […] an environment and culture where breast cancer can be viewed solely as a woman’s problem or a woman’s disease, it may be […]

  6. […] an environment and culture where breast cancer can be viewed solely as a woman’s problem or a woman’s disease, it may be […]

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