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Comfort Keepers provides award-winning in-home care for seniors and other adults in need of assistance with daily activities. Our highly trained and dedicated caregivers can help your loved one stay in their home for as long as safely possible—a dream come true for many elders.

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Uplifting In-Home Care Services for Seniors & Other Adults Right Where You Need It. Comfort Keepers Toronto, ON provides in home care services and senior care in the following cities in Ontario: Toronto, North York, East York, York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Leaside, and Agincourt

Mesothelioma, Caregivers, Seniors and Toronto Home Care

Toronto Senior Health  |  November 1, 2015

Guest post from Tim Povtak

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that typically strikes early in retirement after years of occupational exposure to asbestos. It is diagnosed in an estimated 750 people annually in Canada and almost 3,000 in the United States.

Although there still is no definitive cure, recent therapeutic advances are extending lives significantly and raising the importance of a primary caregiver at home.

Instead of the past mesothelioma prognosis of 6-18 months, some patients today are surviving three, four, five or more years after finding a mesothelioma specialty center that uses a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.

Taking care of a loved one with mesothelioma can be a daunting task at times, particularly in the latter stages of the disease. But being a caregiver can also be a richly rewarding experience for a family member if they provided the necessary tools. One tool is having an understanding of the cancer.

Pleural mesothelioma, the most common type of the disease, starts in the thin lining surrounding the lungs. It shows two, three or four decades after the inhalation of the asbestos fibers. Those fibers become lodged in the lining, slowly cause scarring and eventually can lead to cancer cells that begin spreading throughout the thoracic cavity.

Early symptoms may include a persistent dry cough, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Depending upon the effectiveness of therapy, the latter stages can be debilitating, often making the simplest of tasks impossible without a caregiver at home. An uncertain future only adds to the stress.

As a caregiver, you might be dealing with medical and legal professionals, remembering medications and treatments, managing appointments and financial affairs. Feeding and bathing the patient might figure into the mix.

Trying to maintain your own life may be difficult. To improve patient care, there are some important things to remember.

  • Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Find time to eat right and recharge your battery, even with a demanding caregiving schedule. The better you feel, the better care you will provide.
  • Ask for help and accept it. A caregiver, often a spouse, often tries to go it alone, and becomes too worn down. It may seem admirable to spend every last minute alongside the patient, but that often backfires. Let other family members, neighbors or friends help with daily chores and provide a break.
  • Think outside mainstream medicine and explore alternative or complementary therapies. There are homeopathic therapies like herbs and antioxidants, mind-body therapies like yoga, and even energy therapies like music that have helped some patients.
  • Join a support group. Talking to others dealing with the same disease can be helpful, especially with a rare condition like mesothelioma. They will understand your questions. It takes away the isolation a caregiver often feels. The Mesothelioma Center has a monthly support group that meets each month to discuss various topics.
  • Seek professional help with caregiving. Caregivers at home usually don’t have nursing experience, so get advice from others who do. Seek advice for managing pain, managing symptoms, medical safety and practical aspects of caregiving.

Caregiving can be overwhelming at times, but it also can be a rewarding experience if you know you are improving the quality of life for a mesothelioma patient.

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