When people envision caregivers, they sometimes think of medical professionals hired to handle just about everything for patients.
In reality, a mesothelioma caregiver is usually a spouse, child or grandchild — or a mixture of all three — called in to fill the void wherever and whenever possible, and without a second thought.
November is Family Caregivers Month, which presents a moment to recognize the selfless acts of loved ones. Without them, people struggling with mesothelioma and other cancers would not receive as high a quality of life.
You might be a husband or wife of a mesothelioma patient. Maybe a brother or sister, son or daughter, or even a grandchild. You likely won’t label yourself as a “caregiver,” but you live up to this much-needed role in so many ways. In fact, the American Cancer Society says that most caregivers are family members.
Here are five caregiver responsibilities that family members often handle.
Cleaning the House
Mesothelioma often drains the patient of energy and strength. They may be unable to perform routine tasks like vacuuming, wiping down surfaces, taking out the trash, or doing yard work.
If you’re stepping in to fill the void and keep the house orderly, you’re increasing your loved one’s quality of life. They are eternally grateful.
Feeding, Dressing and Bathing
Patients often feel vulnerable when they need help getting dressed or taking baths. Assistance from someone they know and are comfortable with — such as a family member — goes a long way to diffusing that vulnerability.
Preparing meals also saves the patient time and energy. Simple acts like cooking high-protein meals to increase strength, bringing food containers, and organizing leftovers cross off burdensome tasks for your loved one.
Running the Household
If the patient still has dependent children, then stepping in to keep the household moving is a much-appreciated act. Getting meals cooked for children, helping with homework and more can allow the patient to save their energy and rest.
Other household tasks may include managing finances, paying bills, handling insurance claims and speaking with lawyers. Another important one is reaching out to patient advocates and advocacy groups like Mesothelioma Guide for free and potentially life-saving resources.
These might be higher-level household assignments, but they’re still part of keeping all members of the family comfortable.
Scheduling Appointments and Providing Transportation
Mesothelioma requires a lengthy treatment regimen, usually involving regular trips to hospitals and cancer centers. The continued cycles of chemotherapy and radiation stack up when counting the appointments and trips. Add in surgery — which involves appointments before and after — and managing this schedule is a caregiver role on its own.
Driving the patient to these appointments is also a valued responsibility. Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing your parent, grandparent, spouse or sibling a few miles to the local hospital. Other times it might be accompanying them on an airplane across the country to one of the best cancer centers in the world.
Both are needed because people with mesothelioma usually can’t do it alone.
Lending Your Ear and Shoulder
Being a mesothelioma caregiver sometimes requires you to sit down on the couch or bed with the patient and stay absolutely still. Why? Because one of the most invaluable acts is listening to your loved one’s trials.
Maybe they’re anxious about starting chemotherapy. Perhaps they’re fearful of the road ahead. They could have hope in their voice, and they want to express courage in the face of this disease.
All of those emotions and feelings require someone to listen, and that might be your role. Lending your ear provides emotional support for your loved one. Lending your shoulder to lean on is just as important.
Some family caregivers cook. Some of them clean. Some manage the schedule. Some provide transportation.
And some are just there for the patient. All of the above describe an excellent mesothelioma caregiver.
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