How to Support a Senior with Mesothelioma
Caring for someone with cancer requires a lot of support. This is especially true for people facing a terminal cancer for which there is no cure.
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Known for its aggressive growth pattern, mesothelioma rarely responds well to treatment. Few people see life expectancies that are longer than one year after diagnosis.
If your loved one was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are likely coping with fearful thoughts about how they’re going to feel. You may also doubt whether you’ll be able to provide the kind of care they’ll need.
These are normal concerns. Talk about them with family and friends to help you process the fear. If figuring out logistics of care feels overwhelming, ask for help constructing a caregiving plan.
It helps to have an understanding of the kind of care required by a senior with mesothelioma. Consider the following tips when devising a plan for care.
Tips to Care for a Senior with Mesothelioma
Because most cases of mesothelioma cancer develop in the lining around the lungs, pulmonary health is a major component of mesothelioma care.
Don’t ignore changes to breathing, coughing or chest pain. Worsening of these symptoms indicates it’s time for a checkup.
Focus on making improvements to quality of life. For example, if pain increases and the patient’s medication isn’t helping anymore, call your doctor to request a new, more effective pain-relieving prescription.
- Pay attention to overall health and keep your doctor informed of any changes.
- Consider working with a pulmonary therapist to learn helpful breathing techniques.
- Eat plenty of protein and consume enough calories. Limit sugar and processed foods and consume lots of protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
- Find ways to stay active, even if that simply means walking around the house and lifting light weights.
- Nurture emotional health by joining a cancer support group. Consider spiritual health as well, which could entail attending church service or spending time in nature.
Building a Support Team
A primary caregiver needs support from others to care for their loved one. The amount of care required by someone with mesothelioma can’t be fulfilled by one person alone.
Primary caregivers are most often spouses or children of the patient with mesothelioma. Their first circle of support will come from family and friends. Reaching out to neighbors, as well as church and community members, may help you find other people who are able to assist.
Professional nursing and caregiving services are an option when care becomes more medically intensive. For example, some people with mesothelioma have a catheter in place that drains fluid from around their lungs, which requires visits from a licensed nurse to drain the fluid. Sometimes, help from a medical professional is just what the primary caregiver needs to enjoy a break.
Any family facing cancer can benefit from extra caregiving assistance. When there are plenty of people available to support the person with mesothelioma, it provides a sense of comfort and gives primary caregivers time for themselves. It is essential for caregivers to get a break and relish time for self-care; otherwise they run the risk of burnout.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak or imply that you’re incapable of caring for your loved one. It means you care enough about yourself and your loved one to ensure they receive the best care possible.