It is common for family members of mesothelioma victims to volunteer to take on the care of their loved one. However, if this is a role that you are about to assume, you need to fully understand what it entails and take the proper steps to prepare yourself.
Beyond the day-to-day details of nutrition, hygiene and medical support, caregivers also need to understand that when they attempt to juggle their other family responsibilities with the care of a terminally ill person, it exacts a tremendous physical and emotional toll.
Further, if you have professional responsibilities, it can also have a tremendous financial cost.
According to a report conducted in 2017 by Merrill Lynch titled “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity,” women who choose to be caregivers for infirm family members lose an average of $324,000 in wages and benefits, while men lose an average of $284,000.
Mesothelioma’s long latency period means that it tends to be diagnosed unexpectedly, and as a result family members have little time to prepare: the caregiver responsibilities are suddenly thrust upon them. That means that there is almost no chance for transition or for financial planning.
Experts suggest that the first step that family members take is to sit down and talk to all those who indicate that they are going to be involved so that there is a realistic setting of expectations and an assignment of different roles. The more open a conversation is, the better the situation will be managed and the less stress will be involved.
Mesothelioma caregivers face tremendous challenges, often while dealing with their own fresh and raw emotions. In the face of grief, fear, and exhaustion, it is important that a person who is going through this schedules some “me” time that allows them to regroup and refresh.
Whether it’s simply time to take a walk each afternoon, a rejuvenating spa appointment or taking the opportunity to seek emotional support from friends, clergy, or a therapist, it is essential that you care for yourself in order to facilitate your ability to care for your loved one.
The impact of mesothelioma goes beyond the patient. It encompasses the entire family. For information on the support that is available to you, contact the compassionate Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.