Are you providing mesothelioma support or care for someone? If so, you are taking on a labor of love and a great deal of responsibility. Do you understand how to take care of a mesothelioma patient while maintaining your own health? Do you know where to find information that will help you determine if you are ready for the job? Find out about the many facets of being a mesothelioma caregiver such as monitoring patient health, decision making processes, companionship, emotional health, nutritional tips, recording data, and where to seek help. As a mesothelioma support giver, you will be:
Mesothelioma Support by Monitoring Health
- Coordinating with doctors, health providers and pharmacists.
- Scheduling appointments with lawyers, oncologists and therapists.
- Keeping track of, and administering, medications.
- Helping feed, bathe, and dress your loved one.
- Cooking and preparing meals.
Mesothelioma Support by Providing Companionship
This will probably be your most challenging yet important role. Mesothelioma is a crippling disease; your presence and comfort will go a long way toward easing anxiety, fear and pain. Having someone like you —to listen and lean upon— allows the mesothelioma patient to live as normal a life as possible.
Mesothelioma Support and the Decision Making Process
As a mesothelioma support provider, you will play a big part in the decision making process. These decisions may regard treatment, financial, insurance, legal issues, and end-of-life care. Here are a few tips:
Ask Questions: Prepare a list of questions before you meet with the oncologist or specialist; ask about the treatment process, the length of the procedure, the side effects of medication and what you can do to provide comfort for your loved one.
Keep Organized: Throughout the treatment process, you will come across a great deal of paperwork. It pays to be organized. You’ll need to manage separate files on legal matters, medications, doctor’s meetings and health insurance correspondence. Keep a notebook handy at all times, write down questions and take detailed notes when you meet with doctors, tax accountants, and attorneys.
Investigate a Living Will and Power of Attorney: As time moves on, you may need to make critical decisions on behalf of your loved one. It’s important to know, sooner than later, if you have been granted power-of-attorney privileges. Power-of-attorney allows you to make decisions regarding finances, property, treatment, as well as end-of-life matters— e.g., whether or not the medical providers should perform invasive interventions, or put the patient on life support even if you are not the patient’s spouse or child. It will also give you full access to important legal matters; otherwise the patient’s lawyer cannot share confidential information with you.
Are You Up For The Job of Providing Mesothelioma Support?
Providing mesothelioma support is not for the faint of heart. Before you take on the role, ask yourself:
- Am I Physically Capable? : As a caretaker, you may be required to lift the patient out of bed, and in and out of a car. Are you strong enough to help lift and support another adult?
- Do I Have The Time To Commit? : Make sure your personal schedule allows for the time it takes to care for your loved one. If you already have a full time job or multiple commitments, you may choose to hire a primary caregiver and offer your support when time allows. Every little bit helps.
- Do I Have The Emotional Fortitude? : With mesothelioma support responsibilities you will begin to realize that you and your family’s lives will never be the same. Taking care of a loved one makes you vulnerable to depression and anxiety. It’s important to understand your emotional threshold for stress and sadness before you take on such a demanding job.
Caring for Yourself
Taking care of yourself while you take care of your loved one is important. The care you give will be compromised if you are feeing tired or overwhelmed. Therefore it’s crucial that you keep a close watch on your own physical and emotional health.
Check Your “Emotional Pulse”: Throughout each day, be mindful of your own mental well -being. Feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt and grief are all to be expected, and nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you take the time to acknowledge them. Find someone to talk to; you’ll be surprised how much this can ease your stress and lighten your load.
Get Plenty of Rest: It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Without it, you’re running on empty and more easily prone to slipping up and stressing out. So make sure you get the right amount of rest each night.
Eat Well: Sleep and nutrition are two of the best ways to ensure you maintain a healthy mind and body.
Ask for Help: Doing everything yourself is simply unrealistic. Besides, there are very likely people in your life who want to help but don’t know how to go about it. Ask your friends and family members to pitch in by running some of your errands or taking your place for an hour or two. Remember, there are also volunteer groups that offer meals and daily visitors; your physician or mesothelioma lawyer can give you referrals to these services as well as other resources.
Build or Join a Mesothelioma Support Network: There’s simply no substitute for the mesothelioma support you can gain from those who are going through the exact same experience. You can find mesothelioma support groups both locally and online. Check with your oncologist or mesothelioma attorney for any resources or referrals they may have. Keep in mind that mesothelioma is a rare disease, so there is no guarantee you’ll find a group in your local area. In this case, you may want to join a local cancer support group or even consider building your own mesothelioma network. There are also online support groups but investigate them carefully some are just fronts for lawyers trolling for business.
Find Ways To Reduce Stress: Stress and anxiety is part of the landscape for anyone dealing with a terminal illness. Find an effective way to alleviate your stress and practice it every day, even if for only 15 minutes at a time. Some people choose to meditate, pray, read, exercise, or take a walk. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. The more information you learn about mesothelioma, the better prepared you’ll be to offer support. You will know what to expect and gain better insight into what your patient is experiencing.
Do Something Nice for Yourself: Whether it’s a meal at your favorite restaurant or a half-day spa package, treating yourself brings great solace and comfort during a trying time.
Take Time Off: Take a few hours to yourself, away from home. Or better yet, take a day or two if you get a chance. You need a change of environment to boost your spirits and offset potential burnout. Check with your health insurance provider. They might offer you coverage for occasional respites from your caretaking commitments.
Despite the stress that comes with caretaking and providing mesothelioma support, you may feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment while administering treatment and support. The experience will undoubtedly bring the two of you closer, and deepen the bonds of love; which will provide much comfort when you look back on this critical time in life.