Caring for seniors who are suffering from cancer

People are living longer and this is a good thing. It does have its challenges however: long life does not necessarily equal quality of life, and the unfortunate truth is that the longer a person lives, the greater the chances they have of contracting cancer.
The dreaded “C”-word
Nearly everyone knows someone who has or has had cancer. However, cancer research means that people who, decades ago, may have died from the illness, are now living longer thanks to new treatments. Again, this is a good thing. But cancer treatments can be hugely debilitating, meaning that the person undergoing the treatment needs a great deal of looking after. This can place a huge burden on the family member or care provider.
Growing old, of course, causes its own problems, ones that may be exacerbated by cancer. Aging can result in a person being less able to look after themselves such as not keeping themselves clean, being unable to cook, or forgetting things they do need to remember. A senior person may also want to maintain his or her independence and not appreciate what might seem to be interference from someone else. But this just deals with the physical aspect of aging; there are psychological and emotional aspects to aging as well.
Older people often have concerns that younger people do not. For example, they may be concerned about being a burden to their loved ones which can make them anxious and less eager to admit to needing help. They may be worried about their own dependents, like their pets. More significantly, older people may experience forms of dementia that can make them difficult to treat if they have cancer.
Finding resources and help
Fortunately, help is available for both the person suffering from cancer and the person who acts as their care provider, from cancer research institutions with a significant focus on caring for patients. Such institutions are best able to care for people when there is complete openness between the parties, and it is important for care providers to remember that the relationship is two-way. If you are unsure about treatment or care, then make sure you ask the questions that are on your mind. Being informed about the options and treatments open to the senior who has cancer could help alleviate other concerns.
Of course, doctors and nurses cannot be on hand all the time and a care provider will need to take on some of the duties. These may include ensuring medication is taken at the correct times, keeping an eye on symptoms, and maintaining communication with the medical team. There are also non-medical duties that a care provider can take over, such as managing household finances and medical insurance.
When a senior family member becomes ill with cancer, often the whole family becomes involved. Families can help to make cancer less overwhelming by making donations to research and simply being there for their suffering relatives.

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