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Finding care for family members suffering from cancer or heart conditions

December 2013

Supporting an elderly family member suffering from cancer or a heart condition can be tough, but there are a range of available care options and treatments that are helping people with serious illnesses live longer. Read on to learn about some of the options available...

It's no secret that the older we get, the more susceptible we are to illness. In the UK alone, it is estimated around four million elderly people are living with long standing illnesses. Early diagnosis and ever-advancing treatments, however, mean more and more people are able to live for longer and in some cases, fully recover from their illness.

Cancer and heart conditions rank amongst the most common, and serious, illnesses in the UK. Seeing a loved one suffer due to a history of heart conditions can be distressing, and the same goes for a cancer diagnosis. Due to the ever improving treatments and early diagnosis, however, more and more elderly people are benefitting from ground breaking care and treatments. So how can you find the best solutions for your loved one? Here's an overview of some of the options available.

Care homes
As well as receiving the necessary medical support from a doctor or hospital, a person with cancer or a heart condition may need additional care and attention in their day to day lives. Whilst you and your family may be willing to help out as much as possible, your own hectic lives can often make providing your elderly relative with full care and attention close to impossible.

Finding the right care home can therefore make a considerable difference, by ensuring your loved one receives the best possible care, whilst at the same time easing some of the strain on you and your family. Some of the benefits include:

  • Respite care: The days and weeks following a major operation can often reduce a person's mobility and strength, leaving them vulnerable. By opting for respite care, however, they can settle in to a care home for a few weeks and receive thorough care and attention which can enable them to regain their strength.
  • Long term care: After consulting with your family member and their respective doctor, you may decide that longer term care is needed in order to best serve their needs. This will provide you with a peace of mind, knowing your loved one is under 24 hour supervision by trained carers who can spot warning signs, attend to their specific needs and help them cope with their illness.
  • Financial support: It is important to thoroughly research the various financial options, such as benefits and grants, which are available.
  • Cover: Thanks to the advancement in medical research, elderly people are able to live longer with serious illnesses such as cancer and heart conditions. It is therefore important to have the right cover in place. This can help ensure you and your family member don't run out of funding midway through a treatment process, as well as maintain access to drugs, treatments and specialist support.

Choosing the right treatment is a crucial step in the process and the doctor will recommend the best course of action based on the specific requirements of your family member. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider when exploring treatment options:

  • Stay informed: The final decision on treatment is made by the patient, so it's important to ensure you and the person in question fully understands the proposed treatment. The doctor will explain the details, including side effects, risks and highlight any alternatives. Treatments vary depending on the type of cancer, with some – such as prostate cancer – particularly common with men.
  • Short & long term: Depending on the severity of the illness, the length of treatment required may vary. In the case of cancer, surgery or chemo-therapy are short term options, although the latter could last for several months to a year. Heart conditions are also treated in various ways, including surgery procedures or through prescribed medicines which may be required for the remainder of a person's life.  The range of options available means people stand a better chance than ever of winning the battle against serious illness.

Do you have a family member receiving care or treatment for cancer or a heart condition?

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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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