Mesothelioma care may seem overwhelming at first. Although it may never be easy, mesothelioma care can be more manageable if you consider it in terms of meeting two major needs of a mesothelioma patient. Those are the need for safety and comfort. What these entail for mesothelioma care will vary with the individual and will change at different stages of the illness.
Understanding the Levels of Mesothelioma Care
As you start to learn more about mesothelioma, the lethal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, you will also need to learn more about mesothelioma care. You will have to try to understand your mesothelioma patient’s changing condition and how this will affect their needs in the areas of comfort and safety at home.
Generally, daily needs fall into two basic categories:
- Activities important for daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medication and toileting.
- Activities important for independence such as cooking, shopping, going to medical appointments, paying bills and dealing with insurance and attorneys if an asbestos lawsuit has been filed.
Characteristics you will need to monitor in assessing the level of mesothelioma care needed as the disease progresses include:
- Ability to move independently in a wheelchair or with a walker
- Ability to transfer independently from bed to wheelchair
- Ability to carry out basic activities of daily living
You will also need to keep in mind emotional conditions that can affect a mesothelioma patient’s well-being:
- Need for socializing
- Need for privacy
As you keep track of these abilities and characteristics during the process of mesothelioma care, try to determine which of the following levels of mesothelioma care your mesothelioma patient requires. This can be important information to convey if you need to be away and an alternative caregiver will fill in while you’re gone or if a hospital stay is needed.
Minimum Assistance – The mesothelioma patient is basically independent. And can handle most of the usual household chores and personal care, only needing someone as company at medical appointments.
Moderate Assistance – At this stage, the mesothelioma patient needs help with at least three or more of the activities listed above for daily living, such as bathing, dressing or driving to medical appointments.
Maximum Assistance – The mesothelioma patient at this stage is unable to manage self-care and requires total assistance. The services of a professional home health nurse may be a good idea to assist you in providing this level of mesothelioma care.
Preparing Your Home for Mesothelioma Care
The top priority in readying your home for mesothelioma care is safety. In general, the more adaptations that can be made early on with a mind towards future needs, the easier life will be for you and your mesothelioma patient.
The ideal home for mesothelioma care is one that is built on one level. An apartment building is also fine if it has an elevator. A multi-story private home with stairs can be a challenge. Installing a home elevator or moving chair may be costly but in the long run it could be a better alternative and less expensive than placement in a care facility.
For a safe home for mesothelioma care:
- Arrange furniture so there is enough space for a wheelchair or walker to get through
- Make sure furniture will not move if leaned on
- Add railings and ramps where needed
- Remove loose carpets and other hazards that might lead to tripping and falls
- Change knobs to lever handles on all doors
- Install grab bars next to toilets and in the shower or tub
- What to Keep Out of the Home For Mesothelioma Care
A key aspect of mesothelioma care is trying to make sure that the mesothelioma patient can breathe as easily as possible. Dust, smoke and fiber particles can be released into the air and irritate the compromised breathing ability of a mesothelioma patient.
To try to maintain as good a respiratory environment, keep the home as free as possible of the following items:
- Thick rugs
- Lots of stuffed toys
- Pleated lampshades
- Tobacco smoke, candles and incense
- Wool and down bedding
- Dirty air ducts and air filters
- Wood-burning fireplaces (convert to gas if possible)
Making the Mesothelioma Patient As Comfortable As Possible
Mesothelioma care also is about making the mesothelioma patient as comfortable as possible. If your mesothelioma patient has chosen to involve a local hospice organization in helping with care, it may be able to help provide some of the equipment needed. Or your insurance may cover it.
Hospital bed – A hospital bed helps position the patient in ways not possible in a regular bed. It can also help a mesothelioma patient rest and breathe more comfortably. Ideally, a multi position tray table will come with the hospital bed.
Alternative pressure air mattress – A mattress like this can help minimize stress on skin tissue. This can help prevent pressure sores that can otherwise occur from staying in one position in bed too long.
Egg carton pad – A foam mattress pad that resembles an egg carton in shape also can reduce pressure on the skin and skeletal structure and can also improve air circulation.
Wheelchair Comfort – If your mesothelioma patient needs a wheelchair to assist with mobility, you can find inexpensive accessories either online or in a medical supply store to make the chair more comfortable. These could include sheepskin covers for the armrests and various kinds of seat cushions to make sitting for a long time more comfortable and help prevent pressure sores.