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Caring for the Mesothelioma Caregiver
If you’re a caregiver for a loved one diagnosed with mesothelioma, you know all about the long hours and labors of love you perform day in and day out. For each of the 3,000 Americans newly diagnosed each year, someone must be their number-one support and cheerleader as they take on the fight of their lives, and that person often is the primary caregiver, as well.
Caregiving for a mesothelioma patient can be an overwhelming task, including everything from medication management, bathing/feeding and financial wrangling, to dealing with medical and legal issues and scheduling multiple appointments. And this only looks at the care of your loved one (to mention nothing of your own life)! It’s no wonder caregivers can face stress, exhaustion and burnout.
Here are four tips for successfully navigating caregiving:
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- Put on your own oxygen mask first. It’s easy to forget your own needs when giving care to someone with mesothelioma. But taking care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs first will allow you the “fuel” to put in those long hours with your loved one. Make sure to get proper nutrition, moderate exercise and plenty of sleep. You might consider stress reduction through meditation, as well.
- Find a support group. There is much wisdom to be gleaned and comfort to be gained from the experience, strength and hope of other mesothelioma caregivers. Avail yourself of this resource by asking your oncologist for a local recommendation—most major cities have support groups in place. If you live in a smaller town or in the country, consider online support groups.
- Delegate where possible. You may be the point person for care, but asking for help and delegating responsibility will save your sanity. Many times, family and friends offer to run errands or watch your loved one for a while—take them up on their offers! If you don’t have that resource, consider asking your oncologist or mesothelioma lawyer about volunteer groups in your area that might help.
- Take time off for you. Being a mesothelioma caregiver 24/7 is taxing and even the best caregiver needs some R&R. Many insurance plans have coverage for respite care so that you take an afternoon or night off to have fun. After all, maintaining your sense of humor and perspective is vital for you to be effective while avoiding burnout.