If any of your loved ones is a mesothelioma patient and you are caring for them, our hearts go out to you. Caring for a loved one with any chronic or life-threatening illness is extremely hard because this type of illness not only impacts the person with the condition, but it is also hard on the person who has it. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and often the mesothelioma patient has malignant tumors within their body or chest cavities and their organs. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition at this time and many people pass within 24 months of their diagnosis. However, researchers are working tirelessly to find a cure and it is important not to give up hope and to work with your loved one so that they can stay optimistic and have a good quality of life.
Therefore, when you’re helping them deal with their myriad of symptoms, you must remember that they (and you) are not alone. Over 3000 people are affected every year and over 20,000 people are mesothelioma patients and many of them are being cared for by loved ones like you.
As the caregiver of a mesothelioma patient, you may feel hurt, angry and confused right now. You may feel hopeless, worried and confused as you take care of your loved one. We understand what you are going through and want to make things easier for you and your loved one. As such, we’ve put together this guide on how to properly care for your mesothelioma patient. After all, caregiver stress and fatigue are very real and caring for yourself is essential. After all, you can’t care for anyone else if you’re experiencing emotional or physical issues. That said, here are some tips that should help when you’re helping a loved one:
- Seek information about the condition. Obtain as much information as you can about the condition. Read articles, clinical trials about new treatments, medical journals, and books and even talk to your loved one’s doctor about the condition. Not only will this help alleviate stress and confusion, but you’ll have a better understanding of what your loved one is going through. Plus, you’ll be better prepared to take care of them.
- Expect change. Helping your loved one with a life-threatening condition takes its toll on them and on you as the caregiver. Be mentally prepared for the changes your loved one and you are going to face in your lives. You may have to quit your job, work less hours, or reschedule your daily routines. As a result, you may experience higher levels of stress because you are always “on call”. You may feel burnout, which is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. You may even experience these symptoms:
- irritability or feelings of resentment
- unrelenting fatigue
- worsening health conditions
- and more
Be aware that caregiver stress and burnout is real. Understand how to recognize the signs of burnout and take action to rectify the situation before it gets worse. And, if you can’t cope with the stress or if the symptoms get too bad, please seek help from a competent medical or mental health professional who can help you deal with the situation.
- Obtain the support that you need. You can’t help anyone if you don’t feel supported, so get immediate support from other caregivers who have been there. Register with a social community or support group that provides help to family members caring for terminally ill patients. By communing with others who are also helping their loved ones, you’ll be able to talk about the stress and share your emotions with other people who truly understand what you’re going through. You can even check out supportive websites like Asbestos.com, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and Pacific Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Support Group.
- Take time for you. Just as important as getting support is taking care of your needs. Don’t alienate yourself from loved ones who can support you. Find ways to release your stress. Get a massage, exercise, go to a restaurant or movie, have fun, play games, laugh and do some things that make you feel happy and bring joy into your life. Doing this will keep you mentally and physically fit so you’re better able to care for your loved one.
- Enjoy the time you have with your loved one. Remember your mesothelioma patient is still here and is fighting for a healthier life. Loving and caring for someone with a terminal illness drains you emotionally and physically. After all, the idea of losing a loved one is heart-wrenching; however, you can’t give up. Instead of focusing on the negative, you must be brave and show your loved one that they are loved immensely. Enjoy the precious time that you have with your loved one now. Engage in fun activities that won’t tire them out. Encourage them to live life to the fullest and enjoy the precious time that you have with them. Love them and receive love back.
- Don’t give up. It’s easy to fall into a mentality of “why me” and to feel depressed because you can’t fix your loved one. However, slipping into a state of depression won’t help your loved one or you either. Understand the signs of depression and deal with it head on. Remember you are not alone and medical professionals are doing all they can to find a cure. Don’t give up and encourage your loved one not to give up too.
- Understand the treatment that your loved one is being administered. Treatments for mesothelioma may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and other treatments as well. To be an exceptional caregiver you must understand the treatment that your loved one is receiving, any side effects of that treatment, and how to best support them. Therefore, make it a point to communicate with your loved one’s doctors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Express your concerns and report any positive or negative changes that you personally witness.
- Be aware of pain. In many instances, mesothelioma has different stages and some of these can cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, if your loved one is in any pain, work with their medical team to decrease their pain levels. For instance, you can encourage them to try alternative healing processes like Reiki, meditation, music therapy and palliative treatments to deal with the pain.
Taking care of a loved one with a life-threatening condition like mesothelioma is a lot of work. There are doctor visits, treatments and medications to administer. Plus, it is hard to stay positive when you’re dealing with a frightening illness. However, you must have faith and not give up hope. Medical treatments are being discovered every day and one may just help your mesothelioma patient. Life is a precious gift that is meant to be shared with those you love and care about. Don’t ever take your loved ones for granted and focus on loving them to the best of your ability. By following the above-mentioned tips, you can take care of yourself as you take care of your loved one with mesothelioma. Not only will this keep you focused, but it will enhance the bond that you and your loved one share. You’ll create memories that will last a lifetime and you’ll show them the love that they deserve in their time of need. And what could be better than that?
If you need legal assistance, please contact an experienced asbestos or mesothelioma attorney.