For the children and spouses of mesothelioma victims, both the illness period and its aftermath are typically characterized by a myriad of powerful emotions-including fear, anger, guilt and regret. It is also common for the constant stress of the grieving and bereavement periods to be compounded by financial struggles and an overwhelming list of new responsibilities.
Losing a loved one is devastating enough. Families of asbestos cancer victims don’t deserve to suffer the logistics of their tragic loss too. This ongoing series is dedicated to providing information and guidance to the newly bereaved as well as those anticipating the loss of a loved one in the near future.
Over the course of the next month, we’ll feature articles covering topics including: legal rights of asbestos’ victims families, benefits available to asbestos-injured veterans’ dependents, making hospice and palliative care arrangements for a terminally ill loved one, providing support to a family member suffering from mesothelioma, coping with grief, types of bereavement and what to expect from each, helping the terminally ill draft advance directives and other final documents-and more.
Families of Meso Victims-PART SIX
For most people, when someone in the family develops mesothelioma symptoms, assuming the role of caregiver happens swiftly and suddenly. Those with little background in caregiving can find this new set of responsibilities confusing and may worry about how to best support the patient, both physically and emotionally. Let’s start by looking at examples of what types of care victims of mesothelioma cancer generally need most.
Providing Basic Care for Mesothelioma Symptoms
Being educated and prepared for the symptoms your loved one is likely to suffer, which can be largely varied by the type and severity of the cancer. Common general effects of both pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma: weight loss, fluid build-up and chronic pain. Symptoms more specific to the region of the cancer include, for instance: breathing difficulties and trouble swallowing vs. digestive problems and bowel disturbances.
To help your loved one cope with his or her individual mesothelioma symptoms, you’ll need to know what to expect and what measures may be taken to alleviate pain and discomfort (for instance sitting near a fan to lessen respiratory distress and dietary adjustments to aid in digestive function).
Remembering the Importance of Caregivers’ Self-Care
It’s easy for caregivers to forget all about taking care of themselves. But bear in mind: if your own health fails (such as in the form of chronic exhaustion or recurring cold viruses), you won’t be able to provide the support and care your loved one needs at the capacity required. Remember to practice basic self-care daily-which includes getting enough sleep, eating well and allotting time for personal relaxation and pleasure.
Getting Support and Guidance for Both Patients and Caregivers
It’s also important to remember that you are not alone in the process of caring for your ill loved one. In fact, an entire support team is available to you-staring with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals (such as those working in hospice or palliative care settings). Don’t hesitate to reach you to the other member’s of your loved one’s care team for support and expert guidance. Also, be aware that support groups specifically for families of cancer victims and mesothelioma- or asbestos-advocacy organizations can be useful and cost-free resources too.