How to Support Someone With Lung Cancer
Supporting cancer patients and their families is no easy feat. As a caregiver for someone with cancer, you have a multitude of tasks. From shopping for groceries to assisting with getting dressed, caregiving can be overwhelming; therefore, it is essential to care for your well-being. So how do you provide support for someone with cancer while also caring for yourself?
Just as you provide care for patients with lung cancer, you also deserve to feel supported in your role as a caregiver. Lung cancer caregiver support can come from internal and external sources and are essential to your goal of being an excellent caregiver. Learn how to support yourself and lung cancer patients in professional and in-home care settings with these to helpful tips.
1. Caring For Someone With Advanced Lung Cancer
Advanced-stage cancer is a term often used in association with stage 3 and stage 4 (metastatic) lung cancer. Patients with advanced-stage lung cancer may or may not continue treatment. If treatment is no longer feasible, palliative and hospice care can improve their quality of life. You should utilize resources that improve your patient’s quality of life and reduce symptoms. Respite care is short-term care that provides periods of respite for associated caregivers. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a brief relief from the daily stress of caregiving, the patient can add respite care to their support team.
2. Setting Cancer Caregiver Support Boundaries If Caring For a Family Member
Although you will be providing care, your time is still important. Many family caregivers have a difficult time setting boundaries as they often live with the patient. Communication is key – set strict roles and boundaries before providing care so that both parties are aware. It is also okay to say “no” to your loved one if you are uncomfortable taking on certain tasks. If the caregiver role becomes too much, it is important for your own health to assign someone new to cancer home care.
3. Caregiving For a Bedridden Lung Cancer Patient
Hygiene is of utmost importance for those that are bedridden. In-home care for cancer patients includes bed and bath procedures from a caregiver. Bed hygiene is also important since the patient will spend the majority of their time there. Bedsheets should be changed often and the patient should regularly be checked for bedsores. Balanced, nutritious meals and enough liquids should be given to the patient. Because most meals and drinks will be given in bed, chest and lung congestion can accumulate. Conditions like these can lead to pneumonia, viral infections, and chest pain, so change their position and posture often.
4. Precautions For Chemo Caregivers
Chemotherapy will have a lasting effect on cancer patients, so as a caregiver, you will need to prepare for this onset of change. There are safety concerns when providing care to someone receiving chemotherapy. A patient’s body typically takes several days to be rid of the drugs. During this time, you should wear gloves when contacting body fluids and wash your hands thoroughly. Chemo can also be taken orally, so you should use care when touching the pills. Wash bedsheets and clothing separately from other linens and discard adult incontinence briefs by placing them in two plastic bags. If you come in contact with bodily fluids, wash your hands well and speak with a cancer team member for advice.
5. Determine Finances for Cancer Caregiver Support
Whether you will have to pay for finances or assist your patient in doing so, it is crucial to determine finances. The costs of lung cancer treatment can add up quickly, so it is important to understand your finances. Contacting charities, medical insurance providers, and lung cancer attorneys can all provide avenues to pay for the many costs of lung cancer.
6. Be An Ally to Your Cancer Patient
As a caregiver, you can advocate for your loved one. You will likely attend medical appointments, like lung surgery, with the patient and can be the one to speak for them if they so choose. Although you may feel like you should take charge, your loved one is truly the one in charge. Having cancer can already make a patient feel like they have no control so they may like to be in charge of their own health in other ways. You should discuss with your loved one what role they would like you to play through their life expectancy.
7. Discussing Lung Cancer
Although as a caregiver, you are impacted, a patient’s cancer is not about you. You should discuss your role as a caregiver with your lung cancer patient. Knowing what your loved one wants from you allows you to provide them with lung cancer caregiver support, without crossing a line.
8. Coping With Your Emotions
Many caregivers experience compassion fatigue – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those that care for others. From guilt to frustration to sadness, it is normal for caregivers to experience a wide range of emotions. Although your feelings are valid, you should stay positive while caring for your patient as your emotions can affect theirs. Outside of work, it is essential that you have a support group to express negative emotions and fears to help you cope with the intense role of a cancer caregiver.
9. Maintain Physical Health
Maintaining self-care as a lung cancer caregiver can be overwhelming in addition to caring for someone else all day. You should get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly. Additionally, it is essential for your and your patient’s health that you receive your vaccinations and regularly visit the doctor for checkups.
10. Find Cancer Caregiver Support
Although it may seem like it at times, you are not alone. Over 65.7 million Americans serve as caregivers. There are many cancer caregiver support groups across the nation to listen to, care for, and support one another. Online groups provide access to a community, no matter your location. Lung Cancer Center provides caregivers, cancer patients, and family and friends with resources to reduce anxiety, find treatment, and take legal action.
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