Long-Term Care: Not Just for the Aging

A cancer diagnosis isn’t the death sentence that it used to be. With increased treatment options, tumors being detected sooner, and huge movements of cancer support networks, there is a great deal of hope. While cancer may not take your life, it will undoubtedly change it forever. On the positive side, many cancer survivors go on to live with clarified priorities, increased purpose, and deeper relationships. The shadow side is that undergoing treatment and recovery removes many of the cues of normalcy we take for granted every day. Cancer leaves nothing untouched, including the way we experience time, schedules, goals, friendships, food, sleep and generally living in our own bodies.

Even though our risk for cancer increases as we age, young and old alike have received that call from their doctor with devastating test results. As families make plans for fighting the disease, treatment options, recovering at home, and finding a new normal, long-term care can often be overlooked in the planning. In part, some of the great myths about long-term care can keep families from recognizing the options they have. Some common examples are:

  • Long-term care is only for the elderly or those in assisted living facilities
  • Once you start using long-term care you use it for the rest of your life 
  • Long-term care is used for years and years and not for shorter term illnesses 
  • Long-term care insurance is only for the very old
  • I don’t need long-term care because my family can take care of me
  • Receiving long-term care is like hospice, it is only for the dying

Everyone’s body responds differently to various types, stages, and treatments of cancer. Age, gender, other chronic health conditions, and stress management all impact how a person feels and their daily needs when they have the disease. Due to fatigue, reactions to treatments, and decreased functioning, individuals with cancer most commonly need help with what we call “activities of daily living”. This can include things like taking a shower, grocery shopping and preparing a meal, running errands, dressing, toileting, managing medications, and commuting to doctor appointments. Whether it is a spouse or adult children, family are often the first to jump in and help manage these new needs while holding together some kind of normalcy for other family members. This choice is often made out of great instinct and compassion, but also exacts a high price for family caregivers.

Relief for Family Caregivers

Long-term care is a great vehicle for getting cancer patients support in the home during treatment and recovery, but it also relieves family caregivers from having to “do it all” or trade their role as family for a role as a caregiver. Whether you are a parent caring for a child with cancer or an adult couple facing the disease together, the task of caring for a life is large. For example, a middle-aged client of Sound Options was diagnosed with brain cancer and his wife had faithfully cared for him while managing the household and finances. When she called Sound Options she was on the verge of burnout. We paired the family with in-home caregivers who were able to provide relief care and give compassionate attention to her husband. In her words, “I am so thankful for Sound Options. I have been caring for my husband with brain cancer and because of Sound Options and their caregivers, I am able to be his wife again and not just his caregiver.” 

Single Seniors

According to the Administration on Aging, in 2013, 54% of women 65+ were single and 29% of men 65+ were single. Especially with families living more and more spread out, a diagnosis with cancer or a need for surgery can present a real challenge for those who are living alone. Even a short-term departure from the independence they have enjoyed can usher in a need that long-term care can help meet. Having regular care in the home also helps reduce the risk of falls and other injuries that may occur less because of age and more because of fatigue, dizziness, or overdoing it. For more myth busting, good information about long-term care, and paying for care, visit LongTermCare.gov http://longtermcare.gov/  

Caring for You While You Fight for Your Life

If your family is going through a cancer recovery process, we’re here to support you. At Sound Options, our in-home care services are customizable to fit your needs as you heal at home. For some families that may be a caregiver throughout the night, for others it may be a caregiver for a few hours during the day while a spouse is at work. Our RN and MSW Care Managers are available to consult and give guidance during difficult decisions and help families navigate the healthcare maze. Our coordinated team is here to give families the physical and emotional support to care and fight for the life of their loved ones. For service and pricing details give us a call today at 800.628.7649. Further resources are online at SoundOptions.com 

Published on January 30, 2015.