Archive for August, 2011

Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Caring for someone who is suffering from mesothelioma can be both mentally and physically exhausting. While trying to handle your own emotional stress, you may be called upon to manage some things you had not anticipated, such as scheduling, communications with various health professionals, managing appointments for mesothelioma treatment, monitoring medications and assisting with daily routines. As a first line of assistance, you might also be called to listen, comfort or even bear the brunt of a loved one’s misplaced anger. All of this can leave caregivers experiencing overwhelming grief and burnout.

Taking care of yourself is a critical prerequisite for providing quality care. It is important that caregivers create a structure of support for themselves from the very beginning. This includes eating and sleeping regularly and paying attention to those important personal routines that can easily fall to the wayside during times of stress. Consistently taking time-off to get a much-needed break is vital for maintaining your health. Plan ahead to include stress-reducing activities such as stretching, walking, reading or prayer and meditation. In addition to relaxation, exercise can help maintain your stamina throughout the day. While arranging for these breaks may involve hiring outside help, the renewed energy and outlook are well worth the trouble.

You may also need to find answers to your own questions about mesothelioma causes or mesothelioma victim’s rights. We have a number of mesothelioma articles that you may find very helpful.

Because your involvement could take a toll on you financially, you may want to investigate programs and benefits for which you qualify. For example, some insurance programs include reimbursement for caregiving and/or outside aid, such as housecleaning or other assistance.

Most importantly, don’t forget to ask for help. There are a variety of wonderful resources, hotlines and support groups available for caregivers in any given area. When stress appears, sometimes we ignore all indications that we need help. But if you are to provide quality care for your loved one, taking care of yourself is critical.

 

 

Caring for a Loved One With Cancer

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

As a caregiver for a loved one who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have taken on a role that is as generous and loving as it is challenging. When you step into this role, some advanced preparation can be of great help to both you and your loved one.

Many aspects of the care you will provide may have nothing to do with physical care. Patients will likely want to see family and loved ones, especially around important events or holidays, and you may be called upon to schedule and organize these essential visits. You may also find yourself providing encouragement and suggestions to help your loved one cope, stay busy or engage in a meaningful activity. For example, it may greatly help patients to take on a project, such as a scrapbook or diary, to help relieve stress and anxiety.

There will likely be many daily routines that require your assistance. While keeping daily routines can help your loved one’s spirits remain high, it is easy for caregivers to let their encouragement overshadow their awareness of how their loved one is really feeling. For example, while nutrition is important to patient care, it’s also important to be sensitive to the fact that the patient may at times feel discouraged or not well enough to eat. If trying to motivate someone to eat becomes a struggle, you could try smaller meals, or simply offering food again later.

If you are not already familiar with mesothelioma causes and symptoms, you might want to conduct research or talk to health professionals to better understand what your loved one is going through. Take a look at our mesothelioma articles and our mesothelioma blog

for important information and stories that could help you gain further understanding and knowledge. The more you understand the disease and know what to expect, the better you will assist your loved one. You may also consider consulting the patient’s doctors to find out what activities your loved one can participate in and recommendations about the duration and intensity of activities. This way, if your loved one feels up to trying something outside of their regular daily activities, you will be better prepared for how to respond. For more information about mesothelioma victim’s rights, contact us online or by phone at 800-723-3216.

Industries Exposed to Asbestos

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In the recent past, concern about exposure to asbestos has increased, along with the rise in known incidents of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Statistics have shown that past (and in some cases, current) employment in certain industries has come with an increased risk of asbestos exposure.

Automotive

In the 1970’s, research showed a probable link between cancer and the use of asbestos in brake shoes, pads and clutch discs. Many automobile assembly workers, auto mechanics, brake repair experts and production workers were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis. Since the 1990’s, the majority of these products have been manufactured with materials that are currently considered non-carcinogenic. However, mechanics working on older model cars may still be exposed to asbestos. The U.S. Department of Labor offers significant information on the history and handling of these and other mesothelioma-linked materials in high-risk industries.

Construction and Demolition

Before the mid-1970’s, asbestos was used in insulation around piping and boilers, as well as a strength-building additive in concrete slabs and pillars.  In even earlier decades, as far back as the 1930’s, asbestos was commonly sprayed onto materials, exposing workers to particles that could be easily inhaled.  While the use of asbestos has been banned in many applications, today, asbestos is still used in roofing tiles, slating and as an additive to cement. Construction and demolition workers may encounter asbestos when working with older materials or certain asbestos containing materials that have been damaged. High-risk jobs have included or may include bricklayers, drywall installers, inspectors, insulators, masonry workers, plumbers, construction workers, plasterers, roofers and other construction-related jobs.

Electrical

Because of potential exposure to insulation and other construction materials, linemen, powerhouse workers and electricians may be at a higher risk for asbestos exposure. In addition, electrical cloth, panel partitions and wiring could contain asbestos.

Shipyards

In World War II, shipyard workers were exposed to many tons of asbestos, as it was used to line boilers, wrap pipes and cover parts. As a result, U.S. Navy personnel, sailors, laggers, longshoremen and yard workers were commonly exposed to asbestos, resulting in higher-than-average rates of mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases in this group as well.

Aerospace

In the early 1980’s, the U.S. Navy began to shift from asbestos-containing materials to other materials. Prior to this change, asbestos was used in a variety Naval aircraft parts, including insulation and brake linings. Asbestos was released into the air during the installation and handling of insulation, as well as in the use and repair of brakes. Additionally, some epoxies and glues used in aircraft construction also contained asbestos. If the glue or epoxy was disturbed, the asbestos became airborne (or friable).

Other industries that have historically come in contact with asbestos include crane operators, manufacturers, machinists and asbestos textile mill workers. For more information, visit our mesothelioma articles, or our page on the history of asbestos.

 

Asbestos Exposure: Who Is At Risk?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

It is quite possible that virtually everyone will be exposed to asbestos at some point in their lifetime. Even if a person never encountered asbestos-containing materials, asbestos is present in our environment in very low levels. Nonetheless, most people will not develop an asbestos-related disease from this kind of exposure.

According to the National Cancer Institute, certain people are at a much higher risk for asbestos exposure and therefore asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. These diseases pose a greater threat to people who encounter asbestos regularly or who are exposed to extreme levels, such as the rescue workers and volunteers helping in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the World Trade Center North Tower released several tons of asbestos into the air, potentially affecting thousands at the site and surrounding areas. This, of course, is an extreme example of acute environmental exposure. Most cases of asbestos-related disease are linked to certain industries affected by mesothelioma.

Because the risk of exposure often does not surface until many years later, the current list of high-risk jobs is different than those of the past. Obviously, workers who mine asbestos or mesothelioma linked materials that may be contaminated with asbestos are at a great risk, as well as those who work in asbestos product manufacturing.

Additionally, workers involved in the construction business are at a higher risk of ongoing exposure to asbestos-containing materials in older homes. Activities involving demolition, wall removal, popcorn ceiling removal and work in the attic, can bring a worker in contact with asbestos-containing materials. Firefighters exposed to demolished homes may also run a high risk for repeated exposure. Auto-mechanics involved with brake repair can be at risk for asbestos contact. Some studies have shown that family members of these workers can also be affected, as their loved ones bring asbestos fibers into the home on their clothes. Proximity to asbestos mines may also be a factor. There have been cases of people living near mines developing asbestos-related diseases when they had no other known source of exposure.

Government regulations have come a long way in protecting workers’ health against asbestos exposure. Yet, the potential for exposure is still very real, and the degree to which proper safety precautions are followed on the job may make all the difference in the frequency and severity of the exposure.

Certain factors can affect one’s risk of developing an asbestos-related illness. Studies have indicated that the effects of smoking and asbestos exposure combined may be far more deadly than they are separately. Also, the type of fiber, dose, duration and individual health may alter a person’s risk of developing these diseases.

If you would like to know more about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, please visit our Mesothelioma and Asbestos FAQ or read our Mesothelioma articles.