Hearing that a loved one has cancer is frightening, but it’s not as devastating as it was in the past. There have been amazing medical breakthroughs in the past few decades that have allowed patients to receive treatment sooner, and in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This helps them feel more in control of the treatments and allows them to maintain a sense of independence. Family members play a key role in caring for a cancer patient but there are several things to keep in mind to make in home care more effective and less stressful for everyone involved.
Learn more about your loved one’s condition
Talk with the doctors and be sure you understand exactly what type of cancer it is, and what stage. Discuss all treatment options, medications, any diet suggestions or restrictions, and most importantly, what to do in case of emergencies. Find out where you can learn more about the disease; the internet is full of websites that contain inaccurate information. When you have the right information, you can make better decisions about treatments, meal plans, and activities.
Find out what level of care is needed
This should be one of the first decisions made after a diagnosis. Does the patient need help with everyday tasks or just help with medications and rides to appointments? Are there therapies that would be beneficial? Finding out what medical care is needed and making the arrangements will go a long way towards easing the stress of the diagnosis.
Meet the medical team
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis means working with many different medical professionals, including oncologists, nurses, therapists, surgeons, and more. It’s important to have good relationships with these people, and to ensure that everyone has the latest information on the patient’s condition at all times. Be sure to develop good working relationships and keep in close contact with these healthcare professionals. Remember, everyone wants the same outcome.
Keep a “To Do” list
Helping a cancer patient manage a diagnosis means trying to keep track of many appointments, medications, and other important information, on top of everything else that goes on in everyone’s busy lives. Having a cancer care “to do” list helps keep track of this information and ensures that nothing important is misplaced or forgotten. Keep the list in your smartphone; enter appointments as they’re made at doctors’ offices and set reminders to keep you on schedule. If you have trouble keeping up with everything, ask for help from other family members or check into respite care services.
Keep the patient involved in the process
Being diagnosed with cancer disrupts a person’s life, so it’s vital that they feel a sense of control when it comes to their treatment and therapy options as much as possible, even if the patient is a child. Even making small decisions can help them have a sense of control and takes away the sense of powerlessness. Be sure that they continue to enjoy the activities they did before the diagnosis as much as possible, such as cooking, crafting, or going to events.
Provide emotional support
Even a Stage 1 diagnosis of a highly treatable form of cancer is frightening. Be sure the patient knows you will be there to provide emotional as well as physical support, whatever that may entail. It may mean a shoulder to cry on, or someone to bring movies and food after treatment sessions. Support is crucial after a diagnosis and having someone who promises to be there means the world.
Take care of yourself too
Caring for a person’s physical, emotional, and mental needs day in and day out can be taxing on professional caregivers, let alone family members who have no training. If the caregiver continues to the point of collapse, it will only cause more problems for the family. Make the time to rest, eat nutritious meals regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Ask for help when necessary and if family or friends can’t or won’t pitch in, look into professional respite care services.
Helping a family member cope with a cancer diagnosis is challenging, but it’s a challenge that is best met head on, with the support of a team of caring family and friends. By taking advantage of available resources and asking for help, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge.
Hire a caregiver
If you need quality, compassionate senior care services in Schaumburg, IL, you can rely on the trusted caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care. We offer a wide variety of services to help seniors stay in the comfort and security of their own homes. We provide all levels of elderly care, from live in care to regular visits to provide transportation, light housekeeping, companionship, or any other types of non-medical health care that help seniors age in place for as long as they wish.