Knowing to care for a cancer surviving senior is quite essential for every professional caregiver as more than 80% of cancer survivors are over 60 years of age. As of 2014 more than 14.5 million people were estimated to be cancer survivors. But who are cancer survivors?
Cancer survivors are those who have been diagnosed with cancer and have been living with it for quite some time now. Due to advancement in the diagnosis, screening and treatment technologies and facilities for many of the major cancer types more and more people with cancer are being able to live much longer now. So, with time the number of seniors fighting with cancer will also increase and so will the need of qualified caregivers providing care to them.
Hence, we had come up with this post containing educative content about caring for seniors who are cancer survivors.
Setting the Expectations Right
Although it is true that cancer patients are surviving more years than before but still the average years of survival is only five from the date of diagnosis. The length of survival depends on the type of cancer and on the stage when it has been diagnosed.
More than 85% of patients diagnosed with prostate, breast and skin cancer cross at least the five year boundary. More than 50% of patients diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer, also live beyond five years from diagnosis. A few other types of cancers like pancreatic and liver cancer have comparatively lower rates of survival. These types of cancer are also those which are naturally diagnosed at a more developed stage, hence treatments do not become much effective.
Although it would never be wise to determine any one’s life expectancy but from the above data we can at least have a general graph of where we and our loved ones may be standing.
Age and Health Are Prominent Factors
The length of survival for a senior fighting with cancer may largely depend upon the age and some other health conditions. It becomes complicated to administer treatment to seniors already having health issues, like diabetes and other heart diseases, while managing these conditions at the same time.
Moreover, elders have a slower rate of metabolism that makes the breakdown and absorption of the drugs slower than the younger people. This naturally affects the treatment efficacy and tolerance of medicines. Seniors often may find it harder to tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment procedures adopted in treating cancer patients.
Post Treatment Situation
The period after cancer treatment is the most crucial period for the caregiver. Because during this post treatment period the survivor faces many issues and critical situations when the care and support from a caregiver can prove to be very much helpful and therapeutic.
After treatment one of the most common problem is the stress that our beloved seniors may feel. Stress of various worries like how to follow the release plan, when to follow up, what else can be done to keep the cancer away, etc. This problems can be very easily dealt with by having an expert caregiver from Comfort Keepers.
Some senior survivors may find it difficult to cope up with the difference in their bodies and lifestyles after treatment. Differences like scars from the operation, changes in bladder and bowel movement, recurrent pain and fatigue that often result from cancer treatment. Many survivors also have to cope with the changed dynamics of their relationships with friends and family members.
With all these problems a caregiver can render immense help and support to our senior survivors through their constant companionship and care.
Planning for What to Come
After a cancer treatment there arises the need to make some changes and to take some vital decisions. Some positive lifestyle changes have to be established to prevent the recurrence of the disease and to become gradually happier and healthier. Besides, having proper knowledge of the present condition from the specialists is also necessary to expect what may come.
Cancer has been one of the deadliest diseases of all time in all of human history. However, it has been a great achievement that now we are gradually becoming more and more capable in fighting this dangerous disease. We can certainly expect that in near future we will become equipped to fight cancer even more effectively.