Helping with Treatment
Depending on the type of care your loved one requires, there's a whole team of dedicated healthcare professionals who are ready to help. You can learn a lot from the them. The following list outlines some of the important things you should inform yourself about from the healthcare team:
- How and when to communicate with the healthcare team
- List of side effects to look for and when medications should be given
- What constitutes an emergency, when to go to the hospital and whom to notify
- Anticipated changes in the foreseeable future
- Available at-home medical services
Before and During Medical Visits
To prepare for medical appointments, your loved one should record symptoms and jot down questions. If they're unable or forget to do so, you can prepare the list. If you're present during visits, provide the healthcare team with this information at the beginning of the appointment. If there isn’t enough time to cover all of the items, request a follow-up visit or ask if another member of the team can help address them. You may also want to take notes or record important discussions.
Keep in mind that patients have rights and responsibilities. As a caregiver, make sure that your loved one’s rights and responsibilities are respected when interacting with the healthcare team.
Helping with Therapy
People living with myeloma usually take several different drugs with a daily schedule that may vary. Setting up a system can make life a lot easier for your loved one and ease your own mind. Consider a simple chart with required medications, dosing schedule, drug storage instructions, and information on when refills are due. It may be useful to pick up a pill box at the pharmacy to help organize tablets and capsules.
Some treatments may be injected or administered through a central line. If you are willing and able, the nurse can teach you how to clean the central line to reduce the risk of infection and discomfort. Alternatively, there may be private or government at-home services available to assist you with these types of tasks.
Future Treatment Options
Your loved one’s doctor may recommend a treatment plan, however it's the patient who makes the final decision. Understanding the risks, benefits, administration and requirements of different therapies will help your loved one make informed decisions.
As a caregiver, you can also help by researching treatment options. After all, treatment isn't just about medical results: the patient’s circumstances, preferences and quality of life also come into play. If needed, you can step in as a “second voice” to ensure your loved one is being heard.