Chemo: Many cancer patients need to receive chemotherapy treatment while fighting cancer.
Chemo can have multiple side effects and no two patients are exactly the same with how their body will react to the chemotherapy infusions. Reactions can be determined by the size of the dose your parent is receiving, other medical conditions, and the type of chemo she is receiving. And while most side effects will go away once your parent is finished with chemo, as her caregiver, you will be seeking ways to help her manage her side effects to provide relief.
Low Blood Counts
Chemo often causes a loss of blood cells in the person receiving the treatment. Low red blood cells can cause anemia, creating fatigue and low white blood cells can raise the risk of infection. If your parent has low white blood cells, anyone spending any time with your parent, including yourself, your family, and your senior care provider, will need to take extra care to scrub their hands before entering your parent’s home and stay away completely if they are not feeling well. If your parent’s platelets get low, she becomes at risk for extreme bruising and bleeding and will need to take care to not injure or cut herself.
Nausea and Vomiting
Many people who have chemo battle with keeping food down. Your parent’s doctor may prescribe medication to help her manage this side effect. If she does receive medication, help your parent remember to take her medication on time each day no matter how she is feeling at the moment. Your senior care provider can provide reminders to your parent if you leave medications out where she can check on them when she visits. She cannot give them to your parent, but she may be able to help your parent remember to take them. If nausea does strike, eating small, bland snacks throughout the day may help the food to stay down. Dehydration is always a risk with vomiting, so if your parent cannot keep liquids down, check-in often with her cancer team to see if she will need a hospital visit.
As mentioned above, low red blood cells can cause anemia, which may lead to extreme fatigue. This particular side effect may even last past the treatments as her body recuperates. Taking brief naps each day, getting out and walking, and eating well will help her battle fatigue. If she is too tired to perform normal household chores, her senior care provider can help by picking up extra chores.
Some chemo drugs cause hair loss. Your parent’s cancer care team should be able to let you both know if your parent should expect this. While not a dangerous side effect, for women especially, it can be mentally devastating. Have the discussion with your parent before it begins to help her determine her plan of action, whether it’s shaving her head, buying some wigs, and/ wearing bright head coverings.
Chemo: Mouth sores
Another possible side effect of chemo is mouth sores and dryness. Soft food may help your parent keep eating and have plenty of her favorite beverages on hand for when she gets thirsty.
Your parent will appreciate having you and her senior care provider available to help her deal with these side effects. She may get some or may get none, but having a plan for them will help her manage them better.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Senior Care in Berwyn, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care.
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