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5 Things to Consider When Becoming a Mesothelioma Caregiver

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare disease, but it is terminal for those who are diagnosed. The best that loved ones and relatives can do for someone with mesothelioma is make sure the person is as comfortable as possible in the final stretch of life. Becoming a caregiver for your loved one is extremely rewarding, but does not come without its challenges. Consider these five factors before you become a mesothelioma caregiver.

What Does the Patient Need?

Learn what you can about your loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis. The diagnosis and prognosis will give you important information about what to expect in the coming months. If your loved one is diagnosed with late-stage mesothelioma, for example, he or she may not have as long to live and may need more intensive medical care. A diagnosis that comes in an earlier stage, on the other hand, may come with less caregiving (at least in the beginning) but more care associated with treatments, such as recovery from extensive surgeries and chemotherapy.

Do You Have the Ability to Be a Good Caregiver?

Take a good look at your own life, schedule, demands on your time, physical limitations and health problems before deciding to become a mesothelioma caregiver. This is a difficult job that will take up a lot of your time and mental energy. It may not be the right fit for you if you already have a lot on your plate as a parent with young children and/or professional with a full-time job, for example. It might also not be the right choice if you have your own health issues that make you unable to handle the physical side of caregiving, such as assisting the person out of bed.

Do You Have the Time?

Create a schedule that breaks down everything you will need to do as a caregiver in a standard day for someone with mesothelioma. You can shape your caregiving schedule around information that you receive about what type of care the patient will need from his or her doctor. Keep in mind that this schedule will change as the patient experiences changes in health, such as declines in mobility. Make sure that you have the time and ability to commit to this schedule, even if it means delegating some tasks to someone else.

Can You Coordinate With a Health Care Team?

If you decide to take on the role of mesothelioma caregiver, you will become part of your loved one’s larger health care team. This team may include a primary care physician, mesothelioma specialist, surgeon and nurses. It will become your responsibility to coordinate the patient’s care with the health care team. For example, you will need to take the patient to doctor’s appointments and cancer treatment sessions, as well as administer medications on the correct schedule. This can take up a lot of a caregiver’s time. You must be ready to make this commitment.

Do You Have a Plan to Deal With Caregiver Burnout?

Do not become a caregiver for someone with mesothelioma with unrealistic expectations. This is a difficult job that will come with many challenges, including an emotional toll. It can be painful to see your loved one go through an aggressive illness like mesothelioma. You may feel depressed, stressed, overwhelmed and burnt out at times. These feelings are normal and do not make you a bad person.

Create a plan to deal with caregiver burnout. Healthy ways to cope include scheduling time to spend by yourself doing something that you enjoy, journaling, taking breaks and asking for help when you need it. Do not take on more than you are able to handle physically, emotionally or financially. If you find yourself in a position where you need extra support, consider joining a caregiver support group or hiring a professional to assist you.

Becoming a caregiver for someone with mesothelioma can be highly gratifying. Make sure it is the right choice for you and your family, however, before taking on this responsibility.

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