National Family Caregiver Awareness Month: Finding Support

Health & Wellness

November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge and honor the dedicated work that family caregivers provide to their loved ones. 

The Administration of Community Living is a federal agency that collaborates with a non-profit organization, Caregiver Action Network, to promote the observance of National Family Caregiver Awareness Month. The theme they’ve selected for this year’s observance is #CaregiversConnect. 

The focus is on connecting caregivers to information and  resources. And the goal is to help them forge a closer bond with the loved one they’re caring for and to share experiences with other caregivers. 

CAN recently published a list of tips for family caregivers. We’ll discuss each tip through the lens of supporting family caregivers of those diagnosed with mesothelioma

Family Caregivers Play a Critical Role for Mesothelioma Survivors

Family caregivers play a huge role in providing much needed care and support to mesothelioma patients. Treatment for mesothelioma can cause fatigue and make it challenging for survivors to independently care for themselves. 

Complex surgical procedures such as pneumonectomy and decortication or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy can mean weeks of recovery both physically and emotionally. Side effects of chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments can include fatigue, nausea and other discomfort.

Common Mesothelioma Caregiver Tasks
  • Assist with activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, showering, etc.)
  • Attend doctor or treatment appointments
  • Communicate with family and friends
  • Handle financial matters
  • Help with some nursing duties (bandage changes, fluid bag changing, etc.)
  • Manage communications with the healthcare team
  • Manage medications
  • Provide companionship
  • Provide or coordinate transportation
  • Run errands

Currently there are more than 50 million unpaid caregivers providing support for a loved one in the U.S. It’s predicted that the number of unpaid family caregivers is expected to continue to increase in the next few years. 

Statistically, the majority of caregivers are women. Many family caregivers additionally work full-time. 

Tip: Seek Support From Other Caregivers 

CAN’s first tip is for caregivers to connect with one another to find support. For mesothelioma caregivers, this can be particularly helpful.

Many mesothelioma caregivers report that they feel isolated. They may have cut back on their social activities while managing their caregiving duties and to spend more time with their loved one with mesothelioma. 

They can also feel isolated because mesothelioma is a rare disease. Many people are not familiar with the specific challenges of the disease. Mesothelioma caregivers understandably have a lot of questions and are looking to connect with those who can relate to what they’re experiencing. 

About half of the calls and emails the Patient Advocates at The Mesothelioma Center receive are from family caregivers looking for more information about mesothelioma, treatment options and family resources. Caregivers also call to seek support for themselves. 

Connecting with other mesothelioma caregivers is easier these days with the ability to meet others through social media and virtual support groups. The Mesothelioma Center offers a few options for caregivers to share their experiences with each other. 

Resources for Mesothelioma Caregivers

We offer a monthly Mesothelioma Support Group, which many caregivers attend. This is an opportunity to gain more information and find support. Mesothelioma patients and caregivers can talk in real time to others who are experiencing the same diagnosis and treatment.

A private Facebook group open exclusively to mesothelioma patients and caregivers is also available from The Mesothelioma Center. Caregivers can post a question or read other caregiver experiences any time of day or night. 

Many cancer treatment centers, places of worship and community organizations offer caregiver support groups or educational programs that meet in-person. Having the ability to get out of the house and meet other caregivers in real life is very helpful for some caregivers. It’s likely that your local in-person caregiver support groups will include those who are caring for family members with different types of cancer or other chronic illnesses.

Mesothelioma caregivers are an integral part of the support team helping mesothelioma sufferers optimize their quality of life and stay as healthy as possible. November is an important time to recognize family caregivers as we celebrate National Family Caregiver Awareness. Stay tuned for more information and tips for family caregivers of mesothelioma.

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