What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a very rare but aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and though very rare, can also affect the heart.
According to Cancer.net, almost 3,000 people per year are diagnosed with mesothelioma with the average age of 72 upon diagnosis. A large percentage of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are the elderly and veterans, corresponding to a time when asbestos was used for many military materials as well as materials for building homes.
In most cases, this type of cancer is too aggressive and generally too advanced at the time of a diagnosis to have hope for a cure. However, many oncologists and specialists agree that the right care and therapy can not only prolong survival but allow the patient to live well with minimal symptoms and discomfort.
Benefits of Home Health Care for Mesothelioma Patients
Having home support services for a family member who is battling mesothelioma gives them increased ease and reassurance because of the comfort of being at home. An institutional setting like a hospital or recovery center can increase anxiety in a cancer patient, and it’s often an unnecessary and a more costly alternative when home health assistance is available
Being in a familiar environment and in the company of family and friends can aid in recovery, especially in the case of an aggressive cancer like mesothelioma. This type of cancer, which is most often fatal, causes a great deal of stress and fear. Being with family is a huge comfort. The familiar surroundings of the patient’s own home, whenever possible, can reduce discomfort and distress. Homecare may include a combination of daily support, companionship and nursing assistance.
A caregiver provides comfort and assistance to a cancer patient while also assisting with daily living activities. This role includes light housekeeping, preparing meals and running errands. It can also involve medication reminders, assistance with personal care and errands/grocery shopping.
Caregivers are also there to create an environment that’s safe and comfortable for the person they assist. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that causes significant physical symptoms, and patients also struggle with side effects from treatments, like chemotherapy. Having help to do daily tasks takes some pressure off and allows these patients to rest and recover.
Besides receiving assistance in meeting everyday needs, cancer patients can benefit from having companions that spend time with them. It’s reassuring when they know that someone is available to help with minor problems they experience throughout the day. A companion also helps boost the morale of a patient and makes it easier to ward off feelings of loneliness and depression. Having someone available to talk to can help patients maintain a positive outlook as they go through the trials of treatments and recovery.
There are two ways nurses can help with home care for a cancer patient: supervision of home health aide services and medical assistance in the home.
Supervision of Services
A registered nurse (RN) will work closely with the patient’s primary care physician to create a personalized plan of care. Home Health Aides (HHAs) will follow this plan of care to assist patients with everyday activities like eating, bathing and personal hygiene. A home health aide is also there to observe any changes in a patient’s condition that should be reported to the RN or doctor. Patients with mesothelioma are very sick, and close monitoring is helpful for quick and timely medical interventions.
For someone battling mesothelioma at home, the supervising RN will:
- Create, update and revise the personalized Plan of Care (POC) routinely
- Oversee and supervise the HHA’s performance of POC tasks
- Train family members to provide assistance as needed
- Review current medications, reconcile and report any updates
- Consult with the patient’s PCP for proper allocation of care
- Answer clinical questions or concerns
A registered nurse or licensed practical nurse (LPN) can perform many of the same procedures that a person would undergo in the hospital, and the ease and convenience of being at home can have a positive impact on the patient’s outlook and comfort level.
For someone battling mesothelioma at home, a nurse can provide the following services as needed:
- Monitoring blood pressure, vital signs, glucose, and post-operation monitoring
- First Aid and wound care
- IV management
- Catheter and ostomy care
- Management of tubes, drains and bags
- Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, cancer, cardiac and respiratory care
- Medication administration, pouring, reconciliation and reporting
- Daily wound care
Fighting a terminal diagnosis is a long, hard road. With a diagnosis of mesothelioma it is often the case that treatment of the cancer transitions to hospice or end of life care. It’s vital to ensure that the experience is the best it can be for each person, whatever the prognosis. Allowing a cancer patient to be cared for at home and providing the companionship, assistance and medical expertise they need will help ensure the best experience possible during a challenging and stressful time of life.
For more information about mesothelioma please visit https://mesothelioma.net
For more information about Premier Home Health Care’s home health services, please visit http://phhc.premierhomehealthcare.com/