A mesothelioma diagnosis is devastating for the patient and their family. The information that your loved one now has cancer that is untreatable and difficult to manage can be depressing. Moreover, the sudden financial and emotional burden of a mesothelioma diagnosis can be worrisome. However, the biggest concern of family and friends for such patients is their care.
Taking care of someone with a cold and flu, much less a cancer patient, is overwhelming. It requires patience, empathy, and compassion. A caregiver has to be attentive, assertive, and meticulous about their patient. They have to be active and healthy to help their patients with everyday tasks. A caregiver can be a family member, friend, nurse, or professional. No matter the type, a caregiver is the support system of their patients mentally and physically.
Being a caregiver of a mesothelioma patient requires much more effort than other diseases. From helping patients with daily tasks such as changing clothes and using the bathroom to performing advanced duties like administering medications and checking in with the doctors, caregivers have a lot on their hands.
If you are a primary caregiver or wish to be a secondary caregiver, here are a few tips to help you provide the best care for your loved one.
- Plan ahead:
As a caregiver, especially a family member, your foremost task is to plan how things will go about. How will you afford the treatment, manage daily expenses, and which benefits are available for the patient?
As mesothelioma mainly results from asbestos exposure, various compensations are available for such patients. For example, patients that have served in the army, navy, or air force and got mesothelioma due to excessive asbestos exposure during service are eligible to avail of benefits for veterans. Therefore, a caregiver or family member should seek compensation that best suits their patient and file for it. Compensation can help reduce the financial burden, manage everyday expenses, and acquire free treatment for your loved one.
- Help around the house:
Adult children and friends can play their part by taking up house tasks. They can perform basic everyday things such as vacuuming, doing dishes, dusting, and emptying the trashcan. In addition, they can cook meals for the patient and their family to ease some burden, or they can prepare meals for the family. Similarly, assisting with laundry, grocery shopping, and deep cleaning is a great help for the patient.
- Provide emotional support:
Physical and mental health go hand in hand. Without having mental peace and willpower, staying fit and fighting a disease is impossible. Mental health is mainly dependent upon the emotional condition of the person. A patient with a support group will feel understood and can cope with the disease much better than those without support. Therefore, emotional support holds significant value in fighting illness.
Siblings and other relatives play a vital role in providing support to patients and families. They should be the people with whom the patient feels comfortable; the patient can confide in them. They should actively listen to the patient, respect the patient’s feelings and encourage the patient. Similarly, siblings should spend quality time by revisiting old memories, taking an interest in the patient’s condition, and planning activities that provide some change. On the whole, caregivers should give a sense of companionship to the patient.
- Be a helping hand for the primary caregiver:
Visiting and calling the patient is vital, but it is also crucial to relieve the primary caregiver. Primary caregivers are with the patient 24-7; they do everything from physical grooming to aiding the patient in eating. At times caregivers have to spend countless sleepless nights due to the patient’s conditions. Consequently, they can soon burn out and get sick. Therefore, it is necessary to lend a helping hand to primary caregivers.
Secondary caregivers such as children, relatives, and parents should take on smaller tasks to lessen the burden. They can change bedsheets, organize cupboards, and clean the floors to help. Similarly, they can help clean the bathrooms, clean up after meals, run errands, and spend time with the patient. This will provide primary caregivers enough time to relax physically, self-care, and catch up on much-needed sleep.
- Take on the driving duty:
Frequent visits to cancer treatment centers, driving to appointments, and getting the patient in and out of the car, are hectic for the patient and the family. Similarly, driving when sick or exhausted can also result in an accident. Therefore, someone that can provide a driving service is of considerable assistance.
Friends, co-workers, and particular driving services can help such families in their daily commute to hospitals. Not having to drive everywhere gives family members the time to relax and provides a change of company for the patient.
- Keep track of patient information:
Another tedious but often overlooked task is documenting every piece of information. Whether it is the medical prescriptions, dosing regime, doctor notes, lab files, or dietary plans, recording all this data is crucial. Therefore, it is the duty of the family caregiver to organize and maintain the data.
Moreover, scheduling and attending appointments, discussing patient concerns, making health-related decisions, and keeping everyone updated is also part of the job.
Taking care of a mesothelioma patient can be tiring, but it is equally rewarding. It develops a strong sense of humanity within the caregiver. In addition, the collective working of different family members and society in aiding the sick brings harmony and strength. Therefore, anyone willing to help a patient with mesothelioma should follow the above tips.