When your family member is diagnosed with this condition, some things in your life will change. This doesn’t mean that you have to turn around your life altogether. Instead, you must make the necessary adjustments to accommodate the patient as you continue with your usual activities. It is common for family members to want to help when one of them is diagnosed with mesothelioma. Thankfully, caregivers can do so much in providing the necessary medical attention to people battling mesothelioma. Many mesothelioma patients say they hear “let me know if there is anything I can do” regularly. The urge to help is there, especially from family members affected directly by the diagnosis. It is essential to note that most mesothelioma patients don’t want to feel like a burden to their families. They might have challenges asking for help, especially if you make a general offer.
If your family member has mesothelioma, you may feel torn between providing the care they need and independence. Of course, you want to care for your loved one as they battle the condition, but that doesn’t mean that your normal life has to stop. Caregiving can be a perfect time to connect with the patient because you spend more time together. If you are a young adult in your prime years, you might wonder how to provide support with limited resources and time. Seeing your peers lead lives that revolve around relationships, careers, and other interests might make you feel alone. You might feel like you have lost grip of your normal life due to a mesothelioma diagnosis in your family. But that isn’t the case. Knowing how to lead a normal life when caring for a mesothelioma patient is vital.
Three Detailed Tips on How To Maintain Normalcy
So, how do you maintain normalcy after a family member is diagnosed with mesothelioma? Learning of the diagnosis can take a toll on you and your loved one. You might feel stressed and worried about life goals and other ambitions. Striking the perfect balance between caregiving and living your life as early as planned is key.
Here are some of the ways you can achieve the perfect balance.
The first and best way is communication. Communication is a reliable way to deal with the whole situation. You should talk to the patient and another family member about mesothelioma. Of course, you might feel awkward talking about difficult topics with the patients. For instance, you can’t talk about the things you are not doing because you have to care for the patient. You need to find a respectable and understandable way of discussing such difficult topics. Instead of having such conversations with the patient, have them with family members or friends who understand what you are going through. They will give you the support you need to continue with caregiving. Having such discussions also helps every family member understand what is needed and expected of them during the diagnosis.
If possible, you can talk to other family members to take over some responsibilities. This will give you personal time to focus on other things like school or business. Shared responsibilities reduce the burden of mesothelioma caregivers, helping you lead a normal life. When it comes to communication, there are many things to consider. It should not be a one-way communication — let the patient and other family members contribute. By doing so, you will know the best way forward for everyone. Here are some tips you can apply when it comes to communication.
- Don’t Rush into Discussions
As mentioned earlier, mesothelioma patients don’t want to feel like they are a burden to their families. How you talk to them could affect their mental health significantly. Things you say in their presence should be well measured. Therefore, don’t rush into having conversations just because you feel tired or need a break. Instead, find time to cool down and communicate your concerns. Avoid making the patient feel like they are draining you and making you miss out on leading a normal life.
- Talk To the Patient About Their Treatment Wishes
As a family member, you might have your preferences regarding the treatment method. For instance, you might prefer chemo because it is a quicker way of treating mesothelioma. However, you shouldn’t make such decisions on behalf of the patient. Ask them their treatment wishes and see if the doctor approves. Ultimately, the doctor will have their recommendation on the best decision, but if there are two viable options, let the patient choose.
- Talk About Managing Finances
It is not a secret that cancer treatment is costly and could take a toll on your finances. Treating mesothelioma needs funding, and you need to talk about that. If you have a family member battling mesothelioma, you should find ways to finance treatment. Thankfully, most insurance plans cover healthcare services, including mesothelioma treatment. Nonetheless, you must discuss how to finance the treatment with your family. Know how to communicate such a sensitive matter with the patient because they might feel like a burden.
- Set Realistic Expectations
You should be realistic in your caregiving role. Don’t allocate too many responsibilities to yourself. Instead, be realistic about what you can do and what you can’t when caring for your family member. Giving yourself too many responsibilities will set you back significantly. You will hardly find time for yourself, and that is how you stop leading a normal life. Share responsibilities with other family members as much as possible. If you have important events you have to attend, have another person care for the patient. This ensures that you don’t miss out on important events.
- Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
A family member has mesothelioma, so what? Do you have to stop your life altogether? No! Mesothelioma is not a death sentence, and there are high chances that your loved one may get better. Don’t let a mesothelioma diagnosis stop you from enjoying life as you should. Take care of your loved one but also find time for yourself. It is all about finding the perfect balance!
Seek Personal Support for a Better Mindset
Seeking personal support is another great way to handle the situation. As a caregiver, you will be involved in a lot of activities that could affect your emotional well-being. Taking care of your mental health, personal responsibilities, and physical needs will make you a better caregiver. You will be more useful to your mesothelioma patient with good mental health. You should take time from your role and let other family members care for the patient. As mentioned earlier, you have so much going on as a young adult, and you wouldn’t want to spend most of the time caregiving. Therefore, you should try to continue with your romantic relationships, friendships, and hobbies that you enjoy.
When you invest more time in yourself, you will have the energy to care for your family member. Spending all the time by their side could emotionally drain you and affect your ability to care for the patient. While finding some personal time is vital, this sort of balance is hard to attain due to lack of time and the complicated nature of mesothelioma. Consequently, you will feel stressed because you are missing out on fun activities and feel stuck with the patient. You should know that the feeling is normal and that you are not alone. If you find yourself going through that, there are several ways you can fix the situation. Some ideas include:
- Check for Employee Benefits
Mesothelioma is a condition that takes a toll on the emotional well-being of family members. Therefore, you should check with your employer about the Employee Assistance Program, Family Medical Leave Act, and other benefits. Getting these benefits will help ease the pressure of caregiving. For instance, you can get some days off to care for a mesothelioma patient. This means you don’t have to worry about losing your job because you are at home taking care of your loved one. You can also discuss with your employer about working from home. This will give you enough time to care for the patient and complete other personal tasks.
- Speaking Out
If you feel stressed out about the situation, you should speak out. Talk to a clergy member, friend, or counselor about your feelings. Speaking out will help you cope better with the situation. Besides, you won’t feel left out because someone else will know what you are going through. Speaking to a counselor will give you the energy to continue caring for your loved one even in the most difficult times.
- Join a Support Group
There is no better encouragement than speaking to another person going through exactly what you are experiencing. You should join an in-person or online support group for caregivers. Joining such groups will help you cope with the situation better. Besides, you can ask them how they handle the stress that comes with it. In-person support groups are recommended because they are more effective. Interacting with people in your situation will give you the strength and courage you need. Remember to ask as many questions as possible in areas you need guidance.
- Keep Track of Your Journey
Another great way to handle the situation is to keep track of the journey. You can write down a journal to express your feelings at different stages of caregiving. If possible, you can record clips of your entire journey. Video clips are ideal because you can rewatch them whenever you need the motivation to continue. You can see your progress over time and be motivated to continue. Some people open YouTube channels and share updates on their caregiving journey. You can also do the same!
- Plan Fun Activities With the Patient
If the mesothelioma patient can move around and participate in light activities, engage them. For instance, you can go on a road trip with your loved one and explore nature. Engaging in such activities will lift your spirits. Besides, it helps the patient fight mesothelioma. Therefore, you should plan fun activities as much as possible.
- Spend Time With Supportive Friends
When caregiving, you need people that have your back. Spend time with friends that understand what you are going through and motivate you to continue. It is vital that you balance caregiving and your friends. This means you shouldn’t spend all the time with your friends talking about the patients. Instead, you can engage in video games or other fun activities. This will distract you from your current situation.
- Exercise as Much as Possible
Don’t let the caregiving role affect your health. You should exercise as much as possible to stay in good shape. Schedule morning runs and workout sessions. If the patient is in good shape, you can invite them to your workout sessions. However, you should be careful not to overwork the patient because their body is not as strong as yours. You should also have regular physical checkups to ensure your health is intact.
- Listen To Uplifting or Soothing Music
As they say, music heals broken souls. Listening to uplifting music will help improve your mood if you feel stressed and down. Thankfully, there are many platforms where you can stream music for free. Find a platform you prefer and start listening right away!
Manage Caregiving Responsibilities
As a family member, your presence is valuable in the patient’s well-being. After you have learned the type of care the mesothelioma patient needs, you should list all tasks. Tasks might include managing the patient’s financial and legal issues, giving physical and medical care, and managing their emotional affairs. Knowing how to implement these tasks is key to a successful caregiving mission. You might not be a trained caregiver, but following the basic principles of caregiving will be of great help. When it comes to managing responsibilities, the following tips should be considered.
- Discuss With the Medical Team
Of course, the patient has a medical team working on them. As a caregiver and family member, you should discuss with the medical team to get full information regarding the mesothelioma diagnosis. Therefore, you should know the stage of the condition and the kind of medication being used. This information is vital because you will know how to handle the patient. Besides, the kind of treatment being used will guide you in matters to do with nutrition. Without accessing the patient’s medical records, you might not provide the necessary care. Ensure that you share the information with other caregivers in your family because they might need it when you are not around.
- Ensure the Doctor can Contact You or any Other Caregiver
The doctor should have your full contact information in case of emergencies. You wouldn’t want them to call and not get a response. Mesothelioma can be a complicated condition that results in emergency situations. As a caregiver, you should contact the doctor whenever necessary. Therefore, getting their contact information is vital. Other family members can also have their contact information in the patient’s file if you are unreachable.
- Divide Responsibilities Accordingly
It can be quite stressful to handle a mesothelioma patient by yourself. Therefore, you should get all the help you can get. Divide responsibilities amongst family members and let every adult play a role. You can have one individual handling the medications while the other keeps track of the patient’s physical well-being. Dividing responsibilities will leave you with enough time to focus on personal matters. You will have time to go out on dates, watch a football game, or hang out with friends.
- Make Copies of Documents
Although it might seem unnecessary, making copies of the patient’s legal and medical documents is important. The copies include a power of attorney for property, an advance directive, and a power of attorney for health care. You will also need the patient’s financial information and health insurance cards. Such details are vital in a medical emergency or legal battle. Given that mesothelioma is a serious condition, you might get financial assistance from various organizations and institutions. Keep in mind that you cannot get such assistance without the right documentation. Keeping copies of these documents comes in handy, especially if the patient is incapable of sharing them.
- Take Care of Physical Exercises
Engaging in physical activities is highly recommended for mesothelioma patients. This is because it keeps their body active and stimulates quicker healing. Having a person take care of the patient’s physical activities is vital. If necessary, you can hire a professional to help the patient work out. Professionals understand that the patient is not in their best physical condition and will not subject them to intense activities. Besides, they will help them get the best out of the exercises.
Take Good Care of Your Wellbeing and that of Your Loved One
Caring for a mesothelioma patient can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean you should stop living normally. You should strike the perfect balance between caring for your loved one and finding time to focus on your life.