Lung cancer and mesothelioma patients sometimes need help carrying on the functions of everyday life. This is why it’s sometimes useful to have a caregiver who can help out around the house or with doctors’ appointments. If you’re a caregiver who doesn’t work for a visiting home care agency, odds are that you’re the adult child or spouse of a patient who’s well into his or her senior years.
But what if you’re a younger adult, say, between the ages of 18 and 40 years? Being a caregiver is an admirable gesture, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. If you want to make sure that the person you’re caring for gets the best support possible, you need to prepare yourself.
What are caregiver responsibilities?
Many aging adults have a goal to live as independently as possible, even if they’re sick. That may not be entirely realistic, but caregivers can help achieve a great degree of independence and make life as normal as possible.
Caregiver responsibilities include, but aren’t limited to:
- Helping the patient with simple tasks, such as eating, bathing and dressing.
- Making sure the patient doesn’t get malnourished.
- Monitoring the proper intake of medications.
- Keeping track of medical appointments and, if necessary, driving to them.
- Communicating with the healthcare team and making sure the patient understands everything.
- Addressing problems with insurance companies.
- Attending to other family needs.
- Consulting an asbestos attorney. This is the most important financial decision the patient will ever make, so don’t bite at the first television ad you see. Instead, do some research to find the most trusted professionals. More information about choosing a reputable asbestos attorney can be found here.
How do caregiver responsibilities make for a different role for young adults?
Experts estimate that the average age of people caring for someone 65 or older is 63 years. However, in some cases, adults between the ages of 18 and 40 become caregivers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you as a young adult are the primary caregiver – there may be other adult children or spouses involved – but it does mean that you play a role in providing a patient with either emotional or practical support.
These are valuable services, but you may have other aspects of your life that also demand attention. These include school, work or even a family of your own. The fact that you have to tend to all of these things may make you feel conflicted or stressed out.
That doesn’t have to be the case, though.
If you take on caregiver responsibilities, remember that constant communication is important. You can start by asking the patient what they need help with while they’re sick. From there, you should be open about what it is that you can do, and what may require assistance from another caregiver. If you find that you do need extra assistance with your caregiver responsibilities, talk to your loved one’s medical team or the patient navigator of the hospital, who can connect you with resources.
Otherwise, if you still need help with a few things, try asking trusted friends or other relatives. Remember that it’s important to take a few breaks every now and then from your caregiver responsibilities. This is time you should use to relax, meditate or have fun.
If you work or attend school, you should keep everyone informed of your caregiver responsibilities. If you talk to your teachers or the school administration, you may be able to work out an accommodating schedule.
As for work, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job- and health benefits–protected leave per year under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. You may qualify if you work for a public agency, local education agency or private sector company that employs more than 50 people during 20 or more workweeks. Make sure that you’ve accumulated enough work hours in order to benefit.
Ruth Virata interviews and corresponds with persons who are seeking asbestos legal assistance in her capacity as Intake Supervisor for Kazan Law. She has family members formerly in the military and in construction who have been exposed to asbestos as early as the 1950s.