Mesothelioma is a disease that impacts not just the life of the person diagnosed, but their family and friends’ lives, as well. Mesothelioma caregivers turn into the fundamental source of support and comfort for the patient. However, being a mesothelioma caregiver can be challenging at times, too. These selfless individuals put their own needs behind those of their loved one to provide care – whether that care is physical or emotional or both.
It’s important for mesothelioma caregivers to take care of themselves, too. After all, you can only help your loved one if you are first taking care of yourself. Simmons Hanly Conroy regularly works with mesothelioma caregivers to guide and support them through the legal process, and with help from the Meso Foundation, here are a few tips to remember during your challenging journey of helping someone diagnosed with mesothelioma:
Always communicate with your loved one’s doctors.
A mesothelioma diagnosis can mean that a patient is in the care of several doctors. This can make it difficult to maintain good communication among all parties and stay informed about every aspect of your loved one’s care. Another issue is patient confidentiality – a doctor may not be allowed to speak with you about your loved one unless your loved one is present. A signed consent form can help with this challenge, since it will give the doctor permission to talk to you about your loved one’s medical care and options at any time.
The Meso Foundation recommends that all caregivers keep a list of questions about medications, side effects, what the patient can eat or drink, and other medical questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor any questions you may have. If you don’t understand something the doctor has told you, follow up and ask them to explain further. It’s crucial that you have good communication with the doctors so that you can help your loved one with their physical care.
In addition, I recommend that caregivers keep a journal of all doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations and any changes in medications or health status. Keeping this journal will help you organize your thoughts and be better prepared during a doctor visit.
Take care of yourself.
The only way you can be a successful caregiver is if you are first taking care of your own needs. Caregiving is a challenging job that can often lead to stress, loneliness, guilt and frustration. If you are feeling this way, remember that it is not a sign of weakness. Seek support from friends, family and community groups like churches. Remember that it is acceptable to ask for help or to say no once in a while. Stay active with regular exercise and eat balanced meals. If you need to, seek spiritual support or spend some time doing activities that you enjoy, like journaling, reading, meditating, or being in nature. You don’t have to suffer through negative feelings or circumstances – improve your own well-being and you will also be helping your loved one with mesothelioma.
Take comfort in others like you.
There are thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma every year – that means there are also thousands of caregivers like you. Connecting with them is easier than you might think. The Meso Foundation offers a program called Meso-Connect, which helps identify and connect you with other members of the mesothelioma community. It’s an easy way to talk to others who have “been there, done that” and are going through the same challenges that you may be facing.
You can learn more about Meso Foundation’s Meso-Connect here.
Ask for help if you need to.
You are one person. You can’t do it all. It’s important to take some time for yourself now and then, and respite care can help you do just that. Respite care is short-term, temporary relief for those who are caring for family members who need professional aid. Basically, it’s a short break from caregiving without sacrificing the well-being of your loved one. A respite care provider can assist with your loved one’s needs for one to two hours per day, or however long you may need. Also, some churches and community groups will provide sitting services to members. This ensures you get the alone time you deserve and/or much needed rest, and your loved one still gets the support they may need.
The above are a few tips that a mesothelioma caregiver should consider as they face the daily challenges of this disease. The mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy regularly work with mesothelioma caregivers to help them navigate the complexities of the litigation process – so we’re here for you. If you have questions or concerns about filling a mesothelioma lawsuit, don’t hesitate to contact us today.