By the time someone receives a mesothelioma diagnosis, odds are he is already in the disease’s advanced stages. As he experiences respiratory difficulties, he may find himself limited in his physical activities, including everyday tasks, such as shopping and cooking.
If you decided to take on the role of caregiver for someone close to you, we at Mesothelioma Circle commend you for your dedication. Also, we want to make sure that you get all the psychological support you need for the task. When you are able to manage stress in a positive way, you are not only doing yourself a favor – you are also ensuring that you stay an effective caregiver for the patient.
Who are the caregivers in the U.S.?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 61 percent of caregivers are women, most of whom are middle-aged. Thirteen percent of caregivers are at least 65 years old.
At one point or another, most of us will provide informal care to someone who is sick. Experts say that during any given year, 21 percent of adults in the U.S. provides unpaid care to someone who is at least 18 years old.
Caregivers manage many tasks for patients, including shopping, house cleaning, paying bills or cooking. Sometimes caregivers have to provide assistance for event he most basic functions, such as eating, dressing, taking medicine, bathing or using the toilet.
Wear and tear can take their toll
Caregiving can be as demanding as full-time job. This can be concerning in light of the fact that 59 percent of caregivers have jobs outside of helping their patients.
Over time, the rigors of caregiving can wear down on an individual. This can lead to negative feelings, such as frustration, guilt or loneliness.
The Family Caregiver Alliance has some interesting data:
- More than one-quarter of caregivers describe the task as emotionally hard on them.
- More than one-fifth feel exhausted by the time they go to bed.
- Between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers have significant signs of depression.
These problems need to be handled in a positive manner before they escalate, putting both the caregiver and patient at risk.
Realistic expectations and planning can help with stress management
Experts from the American Cancer Society have several tips for caregivers. Among them is reconciliation with the fact that if you decided to become a caregiver, it is not realistic to do everything by yourself. Keep lines of communication open between you, your relatives and your friends. They can be there for you any time you need assistance with a task, or whenever you need a confidante. If your social circle is limited, try to seek out a support group for caregivers, either in the area where you live or online.
In case you are able to find someone who is willing to relieve you of your caregiving duties for even a few hours, plan ahead to engage in activities that you enjoy. These can include time with friends, personal projects that give you a sense of accomplishment or relaxing diversions.
The patient’s healthcare team will also be understanding about your situation. If you need help, try talking to them about what is going on in your day-to-day life.
If employment and income become issues, you need to talk to your managers about employee benefits that will allow you to take time off while keeping your job secure.