What Mesothelioma Patients Need from Caregivers
A patient will need considerable help navigating through a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma, but most importantly, he will need a primary caregiver who understands what lies ahead.
Medical staff may decide the best course of treatment, but the caregiver often determines just how well that patient lives.
Caregivers play a crucial role.
Caring for a family member with mesothelioma can be an overwhelming and daunting task, or it also can be a richly rewarding experience. Sometimes, it can be both.
With the right tools, a caregiver can raise the quality of life substantially for a patient. The importance should not be underestimated.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, striking an estimated 3,000 people annually in the United States. But it also is an aggressive cancer, metastasizing rapidly after sitting dormant for decades.
Although there is no cure for this asbestos-related disease, medical advancements have given patients the ability to live considerably longer and more complete lives, raising the importance of a good caregiver.
A mesothelioma caregiver will help provide duties that include:
* Health Monitoring: A caregiver will help manage medications at home, appointment schedules, report changing health conditions
to a doctor and provide the medical team with details the patient may miss.
* Decision making: A patient might need to sort out treatment options, health insurance issues, financial decisions and legal issues. Eventually, there is end-of-life care to think about.
* Provide Emotional Support: A mesothelioma patient will have ups and downs, stop depression now and dark times. Companionship can be critical to the well-being of a patient. Sometimes, a patient just needs someone to listen.
Caregiver Duties Will Grow
Caregivers often provide the everyday chores a mesothelioma patient is unable to do. They may be things that once were taken for granted. Cleaning a home, cooking a meal, driving to the grocery store, and walking the dog are simple tasks that may become the role of a caregiver.
The role will intensify as the cancer advances, addressing even more of the day-to-day needs. A caregiver’s responsibility will grow.
One very important thing to remember, though, is that a caregiver must not neglect his or her own well-being. An unhappy or overwhelmed caregiver is not a good caregiver.
You must avoid breaking down mentally or physically by taking breaks and asking for help from friends and family. You also need time away. Take a nap. Take a walk. Taking care of yourself is important.
Joining a support group, either by phone or online, is also very helpful. With a rare cancer like mesothelioma, it helps to talk with others who understand your specific concerns and issues. It can take away the
feeling of isolation for patient and caregiver. No one knows better than someone playing a similar role.
The Mesothelioma Center has a support group that meets monthly by phone and online to discuss various topics, exchange ideas and offer help.
Tim Povtak is a content writer for the Mesothelioma Center and Asbestos.com, an informational source for mesothelioma patients and families.