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.
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.