When an Elderly Loved One Has Cancer, How Can You Best Support Them As A Caregiver?
Cancer is one of the most complex and devastating diagnoses that a loved one can receive. It can affect an elder in many ways, including difficult problems with mobility, swallowing, and other vital bodily functions. Also, it will affect the elder quality of life in the sense of their future, the kind of cancer, and whether or not it will be cured. But no matter what type of cancer the elderly loved one has acquired, they need support. This support can come from a caregiver.
You may feel shocked, afraid, and uncertain when your loved one is diagnosed with cancer. You may even feel as though you are losing your loved one. In reality, the two of you are facing this challenge together. You must be there for your loved one through good times and bad. Providing them with the support they need can make all the difference in their emotional and physical well-being. However, you may find it hard to give the best possible care when you have little experience, support, and resources. You might feel somewhat lost or confused.
This article post will help you understand how to support your loved one as they deal with cancer.
What Is Cancer?
Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the body. It can occur when genes in the cells mutate and re-express themselves. In some cases, such as with lymphoma or leukemia, these cells can begin to multiply uncontrollably. Another cell will multiply, and then another, causing an unstoppable cluster of cancerous cells that are unlike any other cell in your body.
Regardless of the type of cancer your loved one has, you need to know a few basic things about it. First and foremost, you must understand the different stages:
- In stage one, the cancer is in one or two places. It is likely localized, meaning that it is not spreading anywhere else.
- Stage two is described as regional. A good example of regional cancer would be a tumor that has spread to a nearby organ or lymph node.
- In stage three, cancer has spread to other organs or lymph nodes.
- Stage four is called metastatic. It is a stage in which cancer has spread throughout the entire body.
While this disease is frightening for anyone to confront, there are still truths that will help you to deal with it.
- Cancer does not necessarily mean death. Many cancers have a high survival rate. Your loved one could go through treatment and live for many more years.
- A cure for cancer is not necessarily on the horizon. Cancer treatments have advanced, but there is still no cure for cancer itself.
- Another comforting thought is that your loved one may not need surgery or chemo at the beginning of his disease. If the cancer is localized, it can often be successfully treated by medications alone, especially in stages one and two.
How Can You Support Your Elderly Loved One Who Has Cancer?
When your loved one is first diagnosed with cancer, you may feel unprepared to give them the care they need. However, there are different ways that you can support them during this difficult time.
1. Educate Yourself About Their Cancer
The first thing you must do when your loved one is diagnosed with cancer is to educate yourself. This means doing some research on the disease. If a doctor gives you pamphlets, read them. Ask questions. Find out as much as possible about the type of cancer your loved one has been diagnosed with. Also, learn about treatment options, the side effects of those treatments, and any other information that might help you understand what your family member or friend is going through.
2. Consciously Listen
This may seem simple, but many people trying to support an elder with cancer simply do not listen to them. If your elderly loved one is talking about their problems, try to be as present as possible. Listen carefully to every word they say. Be there for them, and show it by your behavior. Let them know you are listening by making eye contact with them and maintaining it throughout the conversation. Just listen to their sentiments on the possibility of dying, having a quality of life, or the other problems that come with cancer. Listening is a simple yet effective way to show your support and care for that person.
3.Make Sure The Patient Has What They Need At Home
After ensuring that your loved one is eating correctly, you may want to ensure they have what they need at home. Things like a comfortable bed, bathing supplies, and other necessities your loved one needs are important to their well-being.
4. Talk With Other Caregivers
You might want to talk with other caregivers who have been through something similar. Talk with them about their experiences, and see if there are things they can suggest. You can even ask them what worked and what didn’t work for them, like cancer treatment or hospital stays. The more information you have, the better your ability to support your loved ones as they deal with cancer firsthand.
5. Take Care Of Yourself
This does not necessarily mean you must go on vacation or quit your job. This means that you need to make sure you are OK yourself. It is necessary to get enough rest and eat right. In addition, seek out other support systems in which you can talk with others who understand what you are going through. You might want to consult a reliable counselor or join a support group. Any outlet that allows you to express your emotions will be very beneficial in this process.
6. Seek Full-Time Care
It is great to take care of your family member with the disease; however, if you are struggling to do this, then you should consider how you can hire a full-time caregiver. This person can help you with any of the above suggestions, and they can also care for your loved one in your absence.
Cancer is a scary and stressful illness for the patient and the loved ones surrounding them. However, it is vital to remember that there are treatment and care options available, as well as many different ways in which you can support your loved one throughout their cancer journey. Remember to talk with other caregivers who have been through something similar, educate yourself on the disease, and make sure your loved one is eating correctly at home.
Andrea Gibbs is the Content Manager at SpringHive Web Agency, a company that offers web design services, maintenance, and Internet marketing. She specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. She also serves as a blog contributor at Serenity Senior Care. She’s an avid personal development enthusiast and an expert in the field of health and fitness. When she’s not writing she can be found running hills or hiking trails, rooting for her favorite team (the Pittsburgh Steelers), or watching a good Netflix series.