How To Care For Your Loved One With A Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. Or a malignant growth or tumor resulting from the division of abnormal cells. It is a disease that can occur at any age. It is the leading cause of mortality amongst the age group of 60–90 years of age. There has been a significant decline in the mortality rate in young cancer patients. We are yet to witness a similar kind of change amongst the elderly population.
A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. After a diagnosis is made, it is the oncologist role to explain the diagnosis and the meaning of the disease stage to your loved one. Discuss various treatment options; recommend the best course of treatment; deliver optimal care; and improve the quality of life both through curative therapy and palliative care with pain and symptom management.
Taking care of your loved one diagnosed with cancer is not an easy task. With advancing age comes several challenges. Along with the associated treatment methods for cancer management.
This is a disease, that has, unfortunately, no cure. But can be effectively managed with a wide range of treatment methods. However, the treatment methods for your loved one has become limited. As the age and general health of your loved one become an important factor. Along with the type and stage of cancer become important deciding factors.
Treatment for cancer for your loved one depends on the type of cancer and the age of your loved one. In addition to this, the general health of your loved one also plays a major role. The goal of the treatment is to remove the cancer cells from the body.
All these treatments depend on the age of your loved one. And only if the general health of your loved one is not compromised. But, whatever type of treatment is being used. There are several side effects associated with it.
- Nausea accompanied by vomiting
- Loss of hair
- Fatigue / lethargy
- Changes in bowel movements
- Loss of control over bladder
- Problem in falling asleep
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain
The conditions listed above are some of the common side effects of treatment. Your loved one may experience some or all of the above-mentioned symptoms.
The first thing that you will need to understand. Is the emotional turmoil your loved one will go through. As a caregiver, you will need to understand the diagnosis. The disease itself can bring in a range of emotions and our loved one need the utmost care and support during this phase.
The second phase of care giving should begin after your loved one has begun the treatment. There are various debilitating side effects. The treatment will make them helpless, irritated and depressed. So, caregivers can give lots of love, and patience.
- Know about the type of cancer your loved one is suffering from. This will help you understand your loved one better, which will, in turn, help you offer better care.
- Keep a detailed notebook. To document the symptoms your loved one who is suffering from after receiving treatment. This will help you avoid emergency situations. And also give you ample time to call the oncology team if required.
- Prepare meals as per the doctor’s advice. This will correct conditions such as anemia and other related problems.
- Be aware of changes in mood or behavior or emotions. Our loved one is more likely to suffer from depression. And other mental health conditions. Inform the oncology team if they find their loved one anxious, irritated or depressed.
- Look for changes in weight in your loved one. Report to the doctor any sudden or drastic change in the weight.
- Changes in bowel movement is a common side effect. Dietary changes can help with problems of constipation. Include more of fibrous foods if your loved one is able to tolerate them. If your loved one cannot eat, then use a laxative.
All these tips should help the caregivers take good care of their loved one with cancer. We cannot cure the disease, but we can certainly help them lead a comfortable life.
Taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and personally, make you a better caregiver. Make time for yourself to recharge your batteries. Step back from your role of care giving and allow others to do the caregiving. Allow other caregivers, hospice, church volunteers, etc. to help out. This will help you interact with your loved one much better. In addition, as much as possible, continue your friendships, romantic relationships, work, and whatever hobbies refresh you. Investing in yourself will give you more energy to be truly there for your loved one.
That sort of balance is often difficult to maintain because of lack of time and complex emotions. During this time, take advantage of resources for support and find ways to cope with stress. Some ideas include the following:
- Talk with a friend, clergy member, or counselor to help you cope with your experience.
- Join an online or in-person support group.
- Write in a journal to express your feelings and document your journey.
- When people offer to help you or your loved one, say yes.
- Plan activities with your loved one that is unrelated to his or her cancer.
- Spend time with supportive friends, even if you have to scale back these activities while you juggle other responsibilities.
- Maintain your health through regular physical checkups.
- Exercise regularly.
- Listen to soothing or uplifting music.
- Read a good book.
- No time: take a warm soothing bath or shower, walk away for five minutes, etc.
For more information on cancer, check out this article in AgingCare.com
Originally published at theultimatecaregivingexpert.com on April 4, 2017.