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Caring for Seniors with Mesothelioma: A Guide for the Family Caregiver

By Kyle Walsh

When someone you love is diagnosed with a chronic condition such as malignant mesothelioma, it is normal for a family member to step up and offer to care for their loved one. Taking on this new role is no easy task. Becoming a caregiver will challenge your patience and test your character. At the same time, caring for someone who needs you is an honor, and it can open opportunities for you to grow closer to your loved one. No one should have to go through these changes alone. Here are tips that may help to make your life easier.

Tip #1: Research

One of the most important aspects of being a caregiver is to know everything you can about their chronic diagnosis. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is usually caused by asbestos. Once diagnosed, individuals with mesothelioma have a life expectancy of 6 to 18 months. During this time, seniors may experience coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

Understanding your loved one’s diagnosis is essential to helping them make the best treatment decisions for their health and wellness. It’s important to find good sources of information such as a support group, your loved one’s physician, or a reputable website.

Tip #2: Ask for Help

Try not to tackle everything alone. Right now, there is no cure for mesothelioma. As the cancer gets more aggressive, it may become harder for you to take care of your loved one. By creating a support system, you can be prepared for any obstacles that show up in your life. It takes more than one person to care for someone with cancer. Hosting a family meeting (in-person, on Skype, via FaceTime) can make it easier for everyone to get on the same page. Ask for help and don't be afraid to take family members and friends up on their offers of assistance. 

Tip #3: Ask Questions

Nobody has all the answers, but it is possible to find the information you need. Whether you are looking online or speaking with a doctor, remember to speak your mind. There may be solutions to the challenges you’re having, but until you ask your questions, you’ll never find an answer.

Tip #4: Remember Your Own Health

When someone becomes a caregiver, they often begin to neglect their own needs and wellness. As a result, they may feel excessively stressed or fatigued. It’s important to make time for yourself amidst all these changes. Be sure to take breaks and plan for evenings to yourself. It is completely normal for a caregiver to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times; just remember that you can step away for a few hours. Call someone in your support system, plan a free night once a week, or check out our other self-care ideas

Tip #5: Take It One Step at a Time

The process of taking on a new role is difficult. There will certainly be a learning curve as you figure out how to balance your old life and your old role as a family member with your new role as a caregiver. It’s okay to mess up. Everybody makes mistakes. Talk to your loved one, and ask for their input. Remember that above all else they are still part of your family, and they still love and care about you.

Tip #6: Don’t Give Up

Becoming a caregiver is difficult and honorable. There will be good times and bad ones. Don’t give up hope. Your aging loved one will need your support, strength, and love to make it through this difficult time in their life. 

If you need extra assistance while caring for someone with mesothelioma, we can help. We understand the unique challenges posed by this chronic condition. To learn more about the services we provide, contact us today!

Kyle Walsh is a guest post contributor. 

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Tags: Caregivers

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