While sarcoma is not a common cancer, it is still a difficult diagnosis for any senior and their family. Treatment can be hard on a senior physically, mentally, and even financially. Seniors with sarcoma may require extra assistance at home to help them remain comfortable and keep up with daily tasks. Let’s learn more about sarcoma and explore some of the ways that you can help care for them.
What Is Sarcoma?
Sarcoma is a general term for rare cancers that originate in the bones or soft tissue. like muscle, fat, tendons, blood vessels, nerves, or joint linings. Together, there are over 70 different types of sarcomas. Most sarcomas start in the arms or legs, but they can be found in any part of the body.
Soft tissue sarcoma is more common than bone sarcoma. About 12,000 cases of soft tissue sarcomas occur in the US each year compared to only 3,000 cases of bone sarcomas. While most bone sarcomas are found in children, over half of the soft tissue sarcoma cases are adults ages 65 and over.
Unlike some other cancers, there is no clear underlying cause for why a senior could get sarcoma. However, exposure to chemicals, certain viruses, genetics, and lymphedema could be risk factors.
The type of treatment that a senior receives for their sarcoma will depend on the type, location of the cancer, and other factors, like their overall health. Treatment can also depend on how aggressive the cancer is spreading. Some treatment options include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
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How Can I Help My Loved One with Sarcoma?
It can be difficult to deal with a cancer diagnosis and to see a loved one go through treatment. Here are some ways that you can help your loved one.
1. Provide Love & Support
Imagine if you were sick and suddenly everyone in your life was too scared to talk to you. Now imagine that everyone doted on you and didn’t let you do anything for yourself. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, these seem to be the 2 typical responses: we avoid that person or we try too hard to help them. And neither of these are very helpful.
One of the best things you can do for your loved one with sarcoma is to provide support and love. They are still your loved one and want to see you, talk to you, laugh with you. Try to treat them like you normally would, while also acknowledging their new health challenges.
2. Attend Doctor Appointments
Your loved one may have a lot of doctor appointments to manage their treatment plan. Sometimes medical jargon can be confusing or daunting, so it can be helpful to have someone else there. Attend appointments as you are able and take an active role in your loved one’s care. Ask questions and make sure you and your loved one understand all the options. But make sure you leave any final decisions on treatment to your loved one if they are able.
3. Prepare Healthy Meals
When you don’t feel well, one of the last things you want to do is cook food. But it’s important for individuals to maintain a balanced diet to keep their strength up. Help your loved one by preparing some meals. Or, if you don’t live nearby, you can order some meals to be delivered to your loved one’s home. Just keep any food restrictions and preferences in mind.
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4. Assist with Getting Around
Seniors who have sarcoma may experience joint pain, swelling, or even unexpected broken bones. These symptoms can make it painful to get around. Additionally, they may need surgery to remove part of or all the cancer. You can assist your loved one by helping them get around the house safely. This could include rearranging furniture, moving commonly used items, helping them use a walker or wheelchair, etc. You can refer to this Home Safety Assessment for ideas to help your loved one avoid dangerous falls.
5. Keep the House Clean
Another activity no one wants to do when they don’t feel well is clean — and many of us don’t want to do it even when we are healthy! But you can help your loved one as they fight sarcoma by keeping their home clean. Here are some things you can do:
- Wash and fold laundry
- Clean out expired food from the fridge
- Do the dishes
- Keep the floors clean
- Dispose of expired medications properly
- Take out the trash
6. Hire a Professional Caregiver
If you don’t live near your loved one or you’re not available to be there to support them because of other responsibilities, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Caregivers can perform all the duties we’ve outlined here with the same care and attention that you would provide. And even if you live nearby, hiring a caregiver can help you get back to focusing on your relationship with your loved one instead of taking care of them.
At Caring Senior Service, our caregivers are carefully screened and must pass through a rigorous interview process. We also train, so they are prepared to assist seniors in a variety of situations. Reach out to your local Caring office today to learn how we can help your loved one with sarcoma.