Mesothelioma caregiving can feel overwhelming and lonely. You may not even know where to start. A good way to start may be putting together a mesothelioma caregiving team.
Recall that “many hands make light work.” Also keep in mind that so many of the people around you – your family, friends, neighbors or people at your church – are going to be upset by the news of your loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis. Doing something to help you with your mesothelioma caregiving will help make them feel better. So don’t think of building a mesothelioma caregiving team as asking someone for a favor. You will be doing them a favor by giving them a specific task to do when they say, “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”
You will also be doing your loved one and yourself a favor. Caregiver burnout is real. Studies show that caregivers are prone to depression, stress and anxiety. They’re also more vulnerable to high blood pressure, poorer immune function and an increased risk of dying. Your mesothelioma patient will not be able to optimize there mesothelioma treatment and wellbeing if you, the primary caregiver, become unwell. So for your loved one’s sake as well as yours, call in the troops.
Who Are the Key Components of Your Mesothelioma Caregiving Team?
Start by creating a list of tasks you need help with. Is it walking the dog? A ride to and from a radiation treatment appointment? Some yard work? Once you know what needs to be done, it will be easier to identify the best people for the job. It is best to be clear about what you need them to do and when. People have an easier time lending a hand if the task and time commitment are clearly defined for them.
When you’re assembling your mesothelioma caregiving team, here are components to consider:
Family members Turning to adult kids is natural if the mesothelioma patient is his or her parent. If it is your parent, you should also ask your siblings to help. Don’t forget other relatives, such as aunts, uncles and cousins. Though you may be the primary caregiver, it’s important to let other relatives know that they are needed. Even a busy person can take a few minutes to do some internet research or make phone calls to set up appointments.
Friends and neighbors Depending on your level of connection, friends and neighbors can be a great source of help. In fact, it might be easier to ask a close neighbor to pick up milk for you at the grocery store than to ask your sister who lives in the next town. And a good friend won’t mind sitting and watching TV with your mesothelioma patient or playing cards while you go out for an hour and get a haircut.
Community organizations Many communities have service groups set up specifically to assist caregivers. You can get information from churches, senior centers, and your local government agencies. Your cancer treatment center may also be a good source of information. Once you start looking, you may find great local network of services available to help.
Hired help If you have the resources, perhaps consider hiring some paid helpers to be part of your mesothelioma caregiving team. This could be occasional or on an ongoing basis. Hired help could include a house cleaning service, lawn care, a professional dog walker or transportation services. If money is tight, ask your asbestos lawyer if he or she could help tide you over.
Support groups Whether in person or through the internet, a support group should be part of your mesothelioma caregiving team. A support group can serve as a place for you to vent your concerns, ask questions about specific challenges and get information about community resources. Look for support groups through your oncologist or cancer treatment center.
Medical Professionals and Support Staff Without a doubt, some of the MVPS on your mesothelioma caregiving team are going to be your patient’s medical caregivers and their support staff. Even if you are upset, try to speak kindly to them and make a point of getting to know their names, from the front desk receptionist to the radiologist.
Legal and Financial Help Just as you depend on healthcare professionals for advice in making mesothelioma treatment decisions, you will need legal and financial experts to help you handle medical care costs. A top mesothelioma law firm like Kazan Law can arrange with your insurance company and cancer treatment center to defer any bills until after you receive a settlement from your mesothelioma lawsuit. This way you can focus on your loved one’s wellbeing without financial worries.
How to Coordinate Your Mesothelioma Caregiving Team
Mesothelioma caregiving can feel less daunting once your mesothelioma caregiving team is in place. But you can also feel additional stress trying to coordinate everyone’s efforts. You don’t know people’s schedules and you don’t want to intrude on their lives. Unfortunately there are always going to be those people who, although they may say they want to help, are unable to do so. If possible, perhaps you can designate a co-captain for your mesothelioma caregiving team. Maybe a close family member – a sibling or one of your kids – can take on the task of coordinating what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who can do it.
Keep in mind that it is important to check with your loved one whether they are okay with this or that neighbor or relative driving them to and from a medical appointment. As a mesothelioma patient, they still need to feel empowered and in control over the things in their life that they still can control. If they do not want to have to make car conversation with someone, that is okay. That person can instead pick up a prescription or return library books for you.
Using group emails and an online shared calendar can help you and your mesothelioma caregiving team literally stay on the same page. There’s also a free website created for this purpose called Lotsa Helping Hands. The site provides a help calendar where volunteers can sign up for tasks that provide caregiver support including meals for the family, rides to medical appointments, and visits. Coordinators can post tasks that require help so volunteers can easily see what’s needed. Reminders are sent to volunteers so that no one forgets their commitments.
A Mesothelioma Caregiving Team Can Help You On This Journey
Mesothelioma caregiving is not going to be easy no matter how much support and help you receive. But building a mesothelioma caregiving team can make it less stressful by lifting some of the burden from your shoulders. Mesothelioma caregiving is hard but it is a journey no one should have to walk alone.