Taking care of an elderly loved one with cancer can give you a mix of overwhelming emotions. There’s sadness for their condition, a little pity, denial, some anger, resentment, remorse, self-pity, bargaining, love, hope, and helplessness.
After all, caring for someone you love and knowing that they have a life-threatening condition is no walk in the park. It can be daunting. Here’s some of the tips that can help you get through it:
Caring for an Elderly Parent with Cancer
1. Champion them. This means you have to know your elderly parent with cancer, their treatment plan, any possible complications, and whatever that needs to be done to keep them comfortable and healthy. Go to all medical appointments and tests, build rapport with the medical staff, and listen to what they have to say. Don’t hesitate to ask questions for your elderly parent’s and your own sake.
2. Learn the risks. Cancer has many complications and even the medication and treatment will have their own side effects. One big risk in cancer treatment is infection, as chemotherapy kills off the infection-fighting white blood cells together with the cancer cells.
3. Be vigilant of complications. Keep your house clean and keep sick people away from your loved one. If another family is sick but wants to visit, don’t give in. Make your elderly parent with cancer a priority. Watch out for fevers, sore throats, colds, and abdominal pain, because these may signal an infection and can easily get worse.
4. Monitor vitals and other signs. Also be vigilant of the various signs of any complication or problem in your elderly parent’s health. One is the catheter or the dressings, because these can also get easily infected.
5. Manage side effects. Chemotherapy can be very painful and the least you can do is to make it as tolerable as possible. Manage pain and side effects, and be patient as well as considerate to what they’re going through. Watch out for loss of appetite, diarrhea, and many other things, and call your doctor immediately if something is amiss.
6. Consider their unique needs. Be considerate of what your elderly parent likes or doesn’t like, what helps make them comfortable and happy. Be flexible if you can, and be firm when necessary, especially when they can be difficult or uncooperative.
7. Keep them in high spirits. Getting them motivated can do wonders to their health and outlook. Aside from creating a routine that they can feel secure about, put a little bit of fun into their schedule. Let them take their mind off their pain and their condition with fun and engaging activities.
8. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Caring for an elderly parent with cancer can be very difficult, and there will be days when you feel isolated and exhausted in what could feel like a thankless job. When things get too much, don’t forget to give yourself a breather. You owe it to yourself as well.