5 Things You Should Know About Caring for Someone with Mesothelioma
Caring for a loved one with mesothelioma can be overwhelming, but experts say it doesn’t have to be. The first step towards helping your loved one manage the disease, while maintaining your own mental health, is to understand the disease itself. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that most commonly starts in the layers of tissue that cover each lung (the pleura). This is called pleural mesothelioma. More rarely, mesothelioma can start in the layer of tissue in the abdomen that surrounds the digestive system organs (the peritoneum). This is called peritoneal mesothelioma.
Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma and currently there is no definitive cure. However, thanks to recent therapeutic advancements, more specialists are taking a curative approach to treatment. As a result, some mesothelioma patients have exceeded the average prognosis of six to 18 months. According to Global Senior Care Services, survivors who receive the latest multidisciplinary care “are living two, three and five years beyond their prognosis,” so a mesothelioma diagnosis is “no longer met with the gloom-and-doom approach it was a decade ago.”
Besides chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, innovative treatments such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy (also known as biologic therapy) show great promise. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is also being used to help improve quality of life. Once you, the caregiver, understand the disease and that there is hope, helping your loved one can be a gratifying experience that will help create the most positive treatment and recovery environment possible—for everyone.
The following are five things that can also help family members and friends of mesothelioma patients become better caregivers.
- Provide Emotional Support
Emotional support is the one thing mesothelioma patients need more than anything else. Companionship is also vital to recovery. Your loved ones mental and emotional state can play a key role in how he handles the inevitable punches that come with the disease and how he rebounds from them. Understand that your loved one will have good days and bad days, so be there to listen to their concerns, offer advice, and show them that they are loved. Patience and compassion can go a long way.
- You Can Help Monitor Your Loved Ones Health
Caregivers are often the ones who will be communicating with doctors the most. They spend the most time with patients at home, so they have the best opportunity to monitor the patient’s day-to-day health, and keep track of details that they may have a tough time remembering. Caregivers often help manage medications at home as well. This can be a huge help to doctors when it comes to adjusting doses, eliminating or adding medications, and other related issues.
Note that caregivers can take their role a step further by seeking guidance from a professional caregiver. A professional caregiver can help you with issues such helping your loved one manage pain and symptoms, as well as medical safety and the everyday aspects of caregiving.
- Explore Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
As mentioned earlier, CAM could help improve quality of life. Also called complementary and alternative therapies, CAM includes mind-body interventions such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, Reiki, biofeedback, hypnosis, meditation and breathing techniques. These mind-body therapies can be very helpful as well as holistic approaches such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and nutrition therapy.
- Join a Support Group
Your loved one needs all of the support he can get. He simply cannot do it alone—and neither can you. Fortunately, there are many support groups for the critically ill and their caregivers. Talking to others who truly understand what you are going through will make you feel less isolated and even comforted.
- Make Decisions
Though treatment options have come a long way in just the last decade, they can be confusing—especially to someone undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments. Health insurance can also be complicated (even for someone who isn’t sick), so do your best to help your loved one understand all of his options. If you need help understanding, speak with the patient’s doctor and insurance provider to gain a better understanding of how all options work. There can be many financial decisions and legal issues to consider as well, so getting help is crucial. Let us help you.
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"Global Senior Care Services." Globalseniorcareservices.com. Global Senior Care, Home Care Services, 2017. Web. 25 May 2017.
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"Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment." National Cancer Institute (NCI). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), n.d. Web. 25 May 2017.
Wahbeh, Helané, Siegward-M. Elsas, and Barry S. Oken. "Mind–body Interventions: Applications in Neurology." National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), 10 June 2008. Web. 25 May 2017.