42 Years - A Professional Law Corporation - Helping Asbestos Victims Since 1974

mesothelioma caregivers

Caregivers of Mesothelioma Patients can Benefit from Support Systems

caregiver with elderly manAt Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we not only care about clients who are battling malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, but we are engaged with their loved ones as well. As this illness advances, patients need more extensive care in order to live as comfortably as possible. In some cases, a relative or friend may take on the role of caregiver.

We recognize that this is a noble and loving gesture, considering that most patients with advanced illnesses prefer to live at home rather than a long-term care institution. In this post, we offer some tips that hopefully can be informative for those who decide to become caregivers for our clients who have asbestos-related diseases.

A wide range of tasks

As a caregiver, you are considered part of a patient’s medical team. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), your tasks may include keeping track of appointments, handling insurance issues, making sure the patient is getting enough food and rest, following medication instructions and helping with everyday functions such as bathing and dressing.

The ACS has several guidelines to ensure that you provide the best care you can:

  • Keep the patient involved in his or her treatment plan.
  • Allow the patient to make their own decisions, but provide guidance if their judgments are poor.
  • Encourage the individual to do as much as they can to care for themselves.
  • Be mindful of your own needs, including rest, exercise, healthy eating and medical care.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, turn to the rest of the medical team for guidance.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others so that you can take time for yourself. Make a list of tasks you need the most help with, and check with loved ones to see if they are able to assist with anything specific.

These tips will become increasingly important as more individuals are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. According to the Environmental Working Group, the incidence of these illnesses may not peak for another decade or more.

Good ways and bad ways to tackle stress

It is normal to feel frustrated, fatigued or otherwise burned out from having to take care of a sick loved one. All people need to figure out the best way for them to deal with stress.

According to the ACS, healthy coping mechanisms include eating healthy food, exercising five times a week, engaging with a religious community, turning to internet support groups, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and staying in contact with supportive friends and family.

In contrast, tobacco use, sleep medication, alcohol consumption or bringing work home can aggravate stress.

Nutritional Information for Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer Patients

healthy food choicesHaving mesothelioma or lung cancer can be exhausting at times, and so is caring for a family member who has either one. Still, you can rest easy knowing that you have untiring patient advocates waiting for you at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley.

In our nearly 40 years of experience helping people make informed legal and medical choices, we have learned that there are many ways to approach cancer care. Whether you’re a patient or a concerned caretaker, one thing that can help keep your body strong and your spirits high is good nutrition.

When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, it is easy to let their (and your) diet go out the window. Here are some of the things we’ve learned over the years about keeping up the nutritional end of care.

For caretakers:

If you’re going to care for a friend or loved one, you’ll need to take care of yourself too. Eat three square meals a day. You may want to eat slightly more than usual (especially extra fruits, vegetables, whole grains or protein) since you’re probably burning more energy now. If you spend long hours in the hospital, skip the snack machines in favor of a good half-hour in the cafeteria. You might be surprised how refreshing it is to eat a real meal.

For patients:

In a way, our advice for you is almost no different. Dealing with illness is taxing on your body and mind, so eating wholesome foods can help you stay optimistic and energetic.

However, keep in mind that having mesothelioma or lung cancer can change your body’s needs.

To start, being diagnosed with the condition may leave you feeling sad or stunned. For a while, your appetite may drop off. During this time, lean on your friends a little. They may bring you hot meals or casseroles to show you that they love you. Try eating some. You’ll probably find that you’re hungrier than you thought.

Mesothelioma and lung cancer can also hit your appetite hard even before your diagnosis. These illnesses sometimes cause what’s called “cachexia,” which is loss of appetite, thinness and exhaustion, all rolled up into one. Cachexia can be a early sign of mesothelioma or lung cancer.

While you’re being treated for your illness, your appetite will probably stay low for a while. This is because chemotherapy, radiation treatment and recuperation from surgery can all make it hard to want to eat anything.

Tips for getting nutrition during treatment

  • Eat many small meals instead of three big ones.
  • Take little bites. This can help you digest food and keep it down.
  • If you’re nauseated, wait a while before trying to eat.
  • Drink plenty of water, but don’t overdo it. If you fill up on fluids, you’ll have little room for any food.

Related articles:

Strategies for Coping with a Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma and Pain: What to Expect and How to Manage It

Mesothelioma and Exercise: What Patients Should Know About Physical Activity

Get a Free Case Evaluation