Having an older family member battling cancer can be challenging. According to South Asian Journal of Cancer, the incidence of cancer shoots up with age and over 12 to 23 percent of all cancers happen after people cross the age of 65 years. Caring for a cancer patient, especially a loved one, is not easy. So, read on to find how to care for an elderly who has cancer.
It is heartbreaking that elderly cancer patients are generally considered not suitable for a curative treatment approach. Be it radiotherapy or chemotherapy or surgery for treatment, it becomes a difficult decision for the doctor and patient and their family. The South Asian Journal of Cancer notes that more often, elderly cancer patients are put on a conservative or less aggressive treatment.
Dr Tejinder Kataria, Chairperson Radiation Oncology and Cancer Center, Medanta – The Medicity tells HealthShots how you can care for your elderly family member who may be undergoing cancer treatment.
Ways you can care for an elderly with cancer
1. Timely and healthy diet
You should add adequate amount of proteins and carbohydrates to maintain body weight and overcome the side effects of the treatment (side effects of eating excess carbohydrates). Also, make sure you give meals on time, says Dr Kataria. Adequate hydration is needed, but consult with their treating physician first.
2. Encourage walking
While making sure they are pain-free with appropriate medication, you should not forget about the importance of mobilisation. Some movements and walking at periodic intervals through the day will help to improve circulation and maintain muscle tone or muscle mass.
3. Keep appropriate accessories near them
Some are too stubborn to take help from a family member during walking or moving around. Other times, they are unable to walk by themselves. In such cases, appropriate accessories like a walker, stick or wheelchair should be made available to them for movement out of bed.
4. Don’t be an on-looker
It’s very easy to be an on-looker or tell others to do the work. But your loved one will appreciate it more if you will be available as an empathetic caregiver rather than an on-looker.
5. Create happy moments
Spending time together is essential, but don’t cry or bring up sad moments. Create joyful and happy moments by celebrating your time together (tips to make your loved ones smile more).
6. Involve extended family members
You can’t everything yourself, so involve your extended family members too. It’s a privilege that is available to most Indians. Let your loved one’s friends also share their moments with the elderly cancer patient.
7. Keep the elderly cancer patient involved in decision-making for their care
You might think that all the decisions should be taken by you. But the expert suggests to keep your elderly family member with cancer involved in his or her decision-making for the care. If this is not done then a lack of trust can impede recovery as well as create a rift in the family.
Keep these points in mind, and also go for regular treatment as per schedule and follow-ups as prescribed.