Caring for a Loved One with Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute myeloid leukemia patients typically receive treatment. People with this cancer might need to rely on caregivers for physical, emotional, and practical support.
“It can be overwhelming at times when you are caring for a loved one with cancer. You don’t have to do it alone.”
Learning more about what it means to be a caregivers can make the process easier for everyone.
People experience a lot of emotions after a cancer diagnosis. Your loved one may be angry and overwhelmed, carrying fears and worries about their health.
They may experience stress and anxiety about the practicalities of life. Many people are hopeful about treatment and are looking forward to moving on.
“As a family member, you can help manage their feelings and support their mental health. Encourage them to talk about what they are going through, but respect their decision if they don’t feel like sharing.”
You can help them stay active by joining them on walks or gardening.
“If you need to see a mental health professional, your loved one’s doctor can refer you to them. If your loved one needs additional support, they may recommend a list of support groups.”
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) recommends caregivers only do what the person with cancer cannot. This helps them maintain a sense of independence, which can make it easier for people to accept help when it’s most needed.
theless, there are many ways you can support your loved one with AML through daily tasks.
Consider helping with some tasks.
- grocery shopping
- household cleaning
You may support your loved one depending on your relationship.
- Helping with personal hygiene.
- Helping with using the bathroom.
- Keeping track of finances and paying bills
You may want to help your loved one with AML prepare meals. Because of AML treatment, your loved one might find it hard to enjoy foods they once did. They may experience nausea, sore mouth, and loss of appetite, among other symptoms.
Even if eating is different, participating in meals can provide a feeling of support.
People with AML might also experience neutropenia, which is a lack of infection-fighting white blood cells. You can help them prepare meals in a way that reduces the chances of infection, such as following
You may have heard of the “neutropenic diet.” However, recent studies indicate this diet cannot effectively reduce the risk of infection in people with cancer who have developed neutropenia.
People with leukemia have to balance many things, including medical appointments, treatment regimen, finances, and family responsibilities. Staying organized and up to date is important for caregivers.
In the early days after diagnosis, this might include taking some time to put together a plan with your loved one. The LLS has resources and worksheets to help caregivers manage issues such as:
- An emergency room plan is needed.
- Understanding health insurance plans.
- The healthcare team has a contact list.
There are a number of ways you can help with ongoing tasks.
- Keeping a calendar for appointments.
- Tracking questions for the healthcare team.
- logging the daily medication
- Recording symptoms, such as pain.
- itemizing daily food intake
- documenting calls to the insurance company
- budgeting and investigating financial assistance options
People with the disease have a lot to think about. Some of the burden can be alleviated by caregivers.
The circle of care can be extended to other family members, friends and people in the community. They may be able to help with practical tasks.
- Household chores and meal preparation.
- grocery shopping
- Driving loved ones to appointments.
- caring for family members
You can decide how to handle these relationships as a caregivers. You may want to let go of the expectations that people will participate in the caregiving. You may want to talk to your loved one about your own needs.
The healthcare team and the person with cancer often have a close relationship with the caregivers.
For some, this process can start with a discussion with the healthcare team on what your loved one is comfortable and uncomfortable with. The LLS has a worksheet you can use with your loved one to help establish these important boundaries.
You can stay up to date with the treatment plan by attending appointments with your loved one.
You can take on the role of a notetaker and write down important details of conversations with the healthcare team. You can help remind the person withAML to take their medication, eat well, and rest at home.
“If you have concerns about your loved one’s well-being, the healthcare team can be an important resource. You may be the first to notice changes in behavior, moods, and other signs that show how your loved one is handling it.”
The process of looking after a loved one living with cancer can be overwhelming. caregivers put their own needs aside and prioritize the needs of their loved one
This approach can be hard to sustain. It can have a negative impact on your health.
It is perfectly fine to take a break, but you need to take care of yourself first.
You can support your own health by doing some things.
- Taking time to relax is a habit.
- You are planning to visit your friends.
- respite care services when other caregivers temporarily take over your care duties
- Asking for help from friends or family.
Taking time to look after yourself could help you handle the emotional challenges of caring for someone withAML.
It is ok to feel tired or frustrated. Talking with a mental health professional may help you manage the role of a family member.
People with acute myeloid leukemia have different roles in their lives. Your loved one may rely on you to help with daily tasks.
When needed, caregivers can call upon family members and friends.
“It is important for caregivers to take time for themselves so they can manage their own stress and feelings. Your loved one’s healthcare team can help connect you with mental health professionals, support groups, and other services to make things easier.”