For mesothelioma caregivers, the holidays can be just one more burden in an already overburdened life, instead of a time of joy. That’s where you come in: you can bring the delight of the holidays back to the mesothelioma caregivers in your life.
Mesothelioma caregivers carry a heavy load. Taking care of a loved one who is gravely ill is an extra full-time job on top of whatever they were already doing in their lives. They are on call 24/7.
Holidays can add the weight of family expectations to this already big burden. There may be extra sadness because of the change in circumstances from the year before. Mesothelioma caregivers may experience additional depression, anxiety, or stress during the holidays.
You can change that. Here are 5 ways you can help give mesothelioma caregivers a bit more holiday cheer this year.
1. Ask Mesothelioma Caregivers What They Want
Some people love surprises. Perhaps you have always delighted your mother with unexpected gifts. Don’t assume that is the right gift for her this year.
Mesothelioma caregivers’ lives change in ways that are hard for those of us standing on the outside to understand. Your cousin Sue may not have the time or the energy to enjoy a fancy lunch out with you, even though that was something she loved in the past. She might be much happier if you brought the food to her or she might want something completely different.
The seriousness of the mesothelioma diagnosis can change someone’s perspective on life. Aunt Rita once loved the porcelain dolls you gave her to add to her collection. This year, she may find solace in that collection or she could have decided that collectibles are too trivial, as she deals with terminal cancer.
Ask what the mesothelioma caregivers in your circle would like for the holidays. Do they want to throw the same house party they have given for the last 20 years? Would they find it easier to just go out to eat? Or would they rather skip it altogether this year? Perhaps your mother will say, “Surprise me” and you’ll know just how to do that.
Listening to the needs of mesothelioma caregivers and being flexible will reduce their holiday stress.
2. Do the Cooking so Mesothelioma Caregivers Don’t Have To
It’s hard to overestimate the amount of energy that mesothelioma caregiving takes, particularly if mesothelioma caregivers are the sole caretakers of their loved ones. Your Nona Helen may not have the bandwidth to make her famous turkey with stuffing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have wonderful holiday meals with the whole family.
Offer to do some or all of the cooking to relieve the burden from mesothelioma caregivers. Use this as a chance to learn family recipes. Ask Nona Helen to share how she gets her turkey to come out so tender or the secret ingredient in her stuffing. (She may laugh at your botched attempts to cook as well as she does, but that will be part of the fun.)
If cooking is not your thing, you can still provide delicious meals for mesothelioma caregivers during the holidays. Many supermarkets have excellent prepared food departments where you can get everything you need for a festive meal or a simple dinner at home. Just heat and serve.
Mesothelioma caregivers may not eat as well as they might like to because caregiving leaves them with too little time to shop and cook. Bringing a meal to your loved ones can be a great way to share some joy.
3. Send in the Clean Up Crew
Cleaning is another chore that can fall by the wayside when someone at home is gravely ill. Mesothelioma caregivers may feel that they can’t open their homes to family and friends, as they might have in the past, because they haven’t been able to clean up to their standards.
Offering to clean someone else’s home is a delicate matter. Be sure to approach the subject in a way that doesn’t sound critical. You might say something like, “Can I come over early and help you get the house ready before your nephews visit?” or “I know you’re exhausted; why don’t you let me decorate the house and set up for your annual Christmas party?”
You don’t need a holiday event as an excuse to help with cleaning. You could come over on a regular basis and vacuum or wash and dry all the dishes when you stop by to visit. It might be something small, but these little gestures are a big help to mesothelioma caregivers.
4. Get Mesothelioma Caregivers Out of the House
With someone seriously ill at home, mesothelioma caregivers may not feel like they can get out much, beyond trips to doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments. In the hustle bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget those sitting home by themselves, unable to go out and join in the merriment.
You can change that. Arrange to take your favorite mesothelioma caregivers out to a holiday party or a concert. Get a group of friends together to bring the caregiver and the mesothelioma patient on a driving tour of the season’s best decorations. Or spend some time at home with the mesothelioma patient so the caregiver can go out to a favorite holiday event.
A nudge from a friend and a bit of assistance may be all that mesothelioma caregivers need to get them out of the house for some holiday fun. A bit of time enjoying themselves can help them feel like themselves again and buoy their spirits. Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of mesothelioma caregivers is one of the best ways to help them enjoy the holidays.
5. Give the Gift of Time to Mesothelioma Caregivers
It’s easy for mesothelioma caregivers to become isolated. Their daily lives are consumed with the needs of their loved ones struggling with mesothelioma symptoms. They don’t have time to go out for coffee the way they used to. They don’t run into their friends at church or the gym anymore.
The best gift you can give to mesothelioma caregivers could be the gift of time. Spend an afternoon with the mesothelioma patient so the caregiver can go out and run errands or pamper herself a bit at the salon. Or take the mesothelioma patient to a medical appointment so the caregiver has a chance to get things done around the house.
The best gift you can give might be to simply stop by and say hello. Your friendly face and smile could be the highlight of their holidays.
Do you have a mesothelioma caregiver in your life? What are your concerns about stress related to a caregiver’s work? If you or a friend found a different method to manage stress, please share your experiences by commenting here, writing us an email, or providing us a video clip. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your knowledge with our readers.