By Matt Mauney
Pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that develops on the pleura, the protective lining of the lungs.
The asbestos-related disease mainly affects seniors because of its long latency period, taking an average of 35 years between first exposure to asbestos and the first signs of symptoms.
Common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include dry cough, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and chest pain. Because the cancer mostly affects seniors, pre-existing health problems can make it even tougher to live with mesothelioma.
While it is important for mesothelioma patients to live life as normal as possible, having help is sometimes necessary.
A caregiver can alleviate many of life’s everyday burdens, along with providing health care needs.
Five ways caregivers can help a mesothelioma patient:
1. Nursing Services
As we age, our medication regimens tend to grow. Mesothelioma patients often have a multitude of medications to help control pain and symptoms. A caregiving professional can give a patient piece of mind, keeping them on track with their medications. Caregivers can also help manage important medical scheduling needs, such as doctor’s appointments, and may even be able to provide transportation to these appointments.
2. Housekeeping Duties
A mesothelioma diagnosis can take an emotional and physical toll on a person. Having someone to help with household chores — ranging from light cleaning (weekly vacuuming and dusting) to daily laundry services and kitchen cleaning — can take a huge burden off a patient, allowing them to focus on more important things in life.
3. Nutrition and Exercise
Nutrition and exercise are important for all seniors but especially those living with a terminal illness such as mesothelioma. Qualified caregivers can help patients with meal preparation and follow nutrition guidelines set by a doctor or dietitian. They may also assist in maintaining a home exercise program. Exercise and a well-balanced nutrition are proven to improve a mesothelioma patient’s quality of life and can even prolong survival.
Having a support system of family and friends is important, but sometimes additional support is needed. In addition to helping with tasks and medical needs, caregivers often act as a cornerstone of companionship for mesothelioma patients, whether it’s providing motivation on rough days or just having a casual conversation to keep spirits high. Caregivers often become someone a patient can confide in and trust, not just as hired help but as a caring friend.
5. Full In-Home Care
Sometimes, full- or part-time home care may be necessary. In this case, caregivers fill a multitude of roles. They can visit several times a day or provide around the clock care. As mesothelioma symptoms progress, it may affect a person’s ability to eat certain foods and get around the house. Caregivers can assume roles of personal hygienists, helping with bathing, showering, feeding and other chores. Additional services, such as errand running, pet care and home maintenance, may also be available.
Living with mesothelioma isn’t easy, but an experienced caregiver can make it much easier. Having help allows a patient to focus on more important things in life such as spending time with family and participating in hobbies.
Freudenthal Home Health can assist you or a loved one in developing a caregiving plan. Give them a call today at 816-676-8050.
Matt Mauney is a writer at The Pleural Mesothelioma Center and PleuralMesothelioma.com, an organization and website dedicated to helping families affected by mesothelioma cancer. We provide free assistance and resources for pleural mesothelioma patients and their families to help them cope with medical, emotional and financial challenges.