some point after their diagnosis, almost every mesothelioma patient will rely on a caregiver. The caregiver’s role can be small – perhaps just driving the patient to and from their doctor’s appointments – or it can be large, helping the patient with almost every aspect of their life.
If you have been asked to become a mesothelioma caregiver, finding your role in your loved one’s life can be difficult. They may lean on you more than you initially imagine – or they may draw back and try to maintain as much of their independence as they can. Regardless of how your loved one accepts care, there are several ways to ease the transition to your respective roles.
Becoming a Mesothelioma Caregiver
Once you have been asked to become a caregiver for a mesothelioma patient, sit down to have an honest discussion with your loved one. This can be a difficult time for both of you, so don’t pry for information they aren’t ready to process. Instead, consider asking some of the following questions:
- How are you feeling right now? Phyiscally? Emotionally?
- Have you started noticing any of the side effects your doctor told you to expect? Is pain, fatigue or difficulty breathing making it harder for you to get everything done?
- Which tasks are you having the most difficulty completing?
- How involved would you like me to be with your care?
- Would you like to pick specific tasks for me to do, or should I simply pitch in when I see the need for assistance?
- How can we handle any scheduling issues I have – such as work, caring for my dependents or pets, etc…
- How will you let me know if I’m doing too much – or too little?
- How can I let you know if I start to feel overwhelmed with caretaker duties?
- What are your thoughts on accepting care from someone other than me? Are there any specific people or organizations you would prefer I contact if we need to ask for extra assistance?
- Do you have specific directives for me to follow in the event of a serious health emergency where you can’t vocalize your own needs and I must make care decisions?
As you grow in your role as a caretaker, you may need to take or (or turn down) specific requests. Because this can be a bit overwhelming and is often a difficult adjustment, many local and national cancer organizations offer support groups specifically for caregivers. These groups welcome new and long-term caregivers alike and are excellent sources of support as you adjust to your new role.
Author bio: Faith Franz is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. She combines her interests in whole-body health and medical research to educate the mesothelioma community about the newest developments in cancer care.