When people get sick, especially when a loved one or family friend has been diagnosed with a disabling, incurable disease like Mesothelioma those who become responsible for their day to day support become what is known as a “caregiver”. It is estimated that over 40 million people in the U.S. alone serve as unpaid caregivers to the injured, disabled and the seriously ill. All of these roles are not filled by spouses alone; some are friends and relatives providing emotional, physical and sometimes financial support.
The support required from a family caregiver for a mesothelioma patient is a daunting task because you are likely for the first time to be faced with a whole host of new and unfamiliar responsibilities. As the disease progresses, so does the support necessary to maintain the health and wellbeing of a mesothelioma patient. During this process you may feel overwhelmed and believe you are all alone to handle the significant responsibilities thrust upon you.
Additionally, not all caregivers are cohabitating family members. Some travel to and from the infirmed because they are the only legitimate support the patient might have. The good news is you are not alone and even though you will have to acquire new skills to be effective in your new untrained role, like being a medical advocate, understanding insurance claims and responding to clinical issues a mesothelioma patient might encounter, this support is vital to help maintain the mesothelioma patient in their time of greatest need. Caregivers are heroes who support people that can’t alone support themselves. We can think of no greater sacrifice or act of loving kindness, then the support a caregiver provides a mesothelioma victim.
It is very important if you become a caregiver or join the support of others providing care for a mesothelioma patient, that you understand your role and exercise your support without sacrificing yourself. You cannot effectively care for another if that role burdens your own health and wellbeing. Clinically you must maintain support, but emotionally and physically you must make time for yourself, even if this involves others, who on a limited basis can assist you.
Fortunately, there is support for caregivers through government programs, caregiver support groups, hospitals, social workers, clinics, churches and advocacy groups like the United Way or The National Alliance of Caregivers. Many publications on how to provide care are available free of charge.