Chemotherapy can be tough on anyone who has to undergo it, but it can be especially difficult for seniors because their bodies do not heal as fast. There are plenty of things that family caregivers can do to help their loved one feel a little bit better while undergoing chemotherapy. We at Carefect Home Care Services are dedicated to quality senior care and would like to share some tips to help family caregivers assist their loved ones undergoing chemotherapy.
If you want to show support for your loved ones that are undergoing chemotherapy you can cook for them, send them flowers, accompany them to chemotherapy or have other family members call them during therapy to keep them upbeat. Chemotherapy can often make patients feel very tired, so not having to cook can be a great help for them. Keep in mind that many patients are not hungry after therapy so if they do not want to eat, do not be offended by this. If you decide to send flowers you should pick flowers that do not have a strong scent because patients undergoing chemotherapy often have a heightened sense of smell and strong smells can make them nauseous. Accompanying your loved one or having people call them during chemotherapy can ensure that they remain upbeat so that their treatment will go well.
Before taking your loved one to chemotherapy you should try to encourage them to eat a small meal so that they can avoid feeling nauseous during treatment. Try to stay away from their favorite foods though just in case they do get sick during chemotherapy so that they will not dislike the food in the future. Providing your loved one with snacks throughout the day and allowing them to eat outside in the fresh air are also good ways to stave off nausea. Drinks such as water, flat ginger ale, and cold mint or ginger tea are also very helpful in preventing nausea after chemotherapy. If your loved one gets a sour taste in their mouth during or after chemotherapy, keep some hard candy on hand for them to suck on so that the bad taste does not make them sick. Encourage your loved one to relax after eating so that their body will have time to properly digest the food.
After chemotherapy, many seniors have trouble digesting solid foods so you should keep an eye on your loved one to determine what their body can handle. If your loved one cannot tolerate solid foods after chemotherapy, you can try giving them sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade or a juice and water mixture so that they will stay hydrated and get some nutrients from the drink depending on what you choose. If their stomach can tolerate it, you can try making them a smoothie with fruit or protein powder in it so that they will be getting even more nutrients from their drink. Once they are feeling up to eating solid foods, it is recommended to start them out with softer foods as they are easier to digest and therefore easier on the stomach.
If your loved one suffers from mouth sores as a result of the chemotherapy, there are a variety of ways to make their food easier to eat. Offering soft foods is the easiest way to avoid hurting their mouth, but you can also soften food up by putting gravy or sauce on it if they want to eat meat or harder foods. Cutting up their food into small pieces or pureeing it in the blender is another helpful tactic because this makes it easier on them when it comes to eating and chewing. When you serve the food make sure that it is not too hot because this can hurt their mouth sores. If their mouth starts to hurt during the day you can offer them a popsicle or an ice cube to keep in their mouth to help ease some of the pain.
Making sure that your elderly parent is safe is another important thing to do. Many seniors who undergo chemotherapy often have a decreased sense of touch so you should make sure that they do not hurt themselves since they might not feel the pain until they have been seriously hurt. You can make sure that your loved one is well groomed and safe by making sure that their nails are clipped so that they do not cut themselves and by making them use an electric razor to shave so that they will not get cut by the razor either. Encouraging your loved one to walk can help with their blood circulation which will help with their pain and will help increase their sense of touch.
If you are worried that your loved ones cannot take care of themselves or their surroundings while undergoing chemotherapy, you can move in with them, have them move in with you or hire a caregiver to take care of them when you cannot be there yourself. This is the best way to ensure that your loved one has enough time to rest while still getting the proper nutrition and care that they need while undergoing chemotherapy.
Other posts in the blog related to this topic:
- Breast Cancer and Senior Women
- Cancer in Seniors: A Growing Trend
- Learning about Prostate Cancer
- Skin Cancer in the Elderly