At first, caring for a family member with mesothelioma can feel a little overwhelming. You might find yourself asking, Am I doing enough? Where do I start? How do I get organized? Fortunately, you’ll soon find your groove, and in the meantime there are little things you can do to make things easier for you and your loved one.
Over the years, we at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley have spent enough time with mesothelioma patients and their families to learn that there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to support the person you love. It’s the trying that counts.
As long as you explore the best available medical and legal options, that’s a good start. However, if you find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed or at a loss for where to begin, here are some tips for supporting a loved one who has mesothelioma.
- Use a planner, calendar or notepad. One of the most important parts of caring for someone with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is making sure they get all the necessary follow-up care. This usually means driving them to and from appointments for physical exams, blood tests and medical scans. By using a small planner or notepad, you can keep a schedule and even jot down questions you may have about care or treatment.
- Take care of basic errands. A big side effect of both MPM and its treatments is fatigue. This means that your family member will either need help performing tasks or, in some cases, may need you to do them for him or her. Try to take care of chores and errands, even if they’re relatively minor. Buy groceries, cook meals, measure out prescriptions and, when you can, help them feed, dress and bathe themselves.
- Get creative with food. At some point, they’ll start having to avoid solid foods and to eat things like soups, stews, broths, smoothies, shakes or Jell-O. To keep their appetite up, try to mix things up whenever you can. Experiment, and ask them if they’re craving anything.
- Give them emotional support. Listen to them, and talk about worries or concerns. Take them to mesothelioma support groups. And of course, try to help them enjoy the little things.
- Finally, take care of yourself! If you’re too frazzled, you won’t be much help to anyone. Be sure to take breaks, or to ask for help when you need it. And consider joining a caretakers’ support group, where you can meet and sympathize with other people in the same situation.