A cancer diagnosis is a blow at any age. For senior citizens, however, dealing with cancer is especially hard, particularly for those individuals who might be facing the multiple medical concerns that come with aging, including a host of other diseases and disorders.
Mesothelioma cancer, quite frequently, is diagnosed among those who would fall into the category of “senior” adults. This is because the disease possesses what is referred to as a long latency period; the time that passes between exposure to the mineral and the development of the disease can be quite lengthy, often as long as 50 years.
That means many of the disease’s victims have progressed into their later years by the time the cancer is discovered. The American Cancer Society notes that the average age of diagnosis in 69 and estimates say about 75 percent of all cases are among senior adults. A large number of these individuals were probably exposed during service to the military while others were sickened due to occupational exposure. Many probably don’t even recall working with the material.
Nonetheless, mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to battle at any age and a diagnosis of this disease means a tough road ahead for the senior and his family members and friends.
Seniors with mesothelioma, by the time they are diagnosed, have probably already begun to slow down and are most likely having a tough time with day-to-day responsibilities.
If the victim is working, he may need to cease employment. Because meso causes breathing problems and other symptoms that can be quite debilitating, even simple tasks begin to present a challenge, including shopping, cleaning, and maybe even taking a walk with friends. For seniors who’ve always been quite active, this change may cause a great deal of depression and anxiousness.
At this point, it is usually necessary for family members to play a more active role in the life of the mesothelioma patient. Sometimes family members choose to move in with their loved one or have their loved one move in with them. When that’s not possible, it’s often necessary to hire in-home help or assistance with things like getting to doctor’s appointments or treatments.
When the disease has progressed to end-stage and it’s difficult for the patient’s family to offer proper care on their own, the family members – along with the patient – will need to talk about hospice and other end-of-life issues. Usually, however, it’s a good idea to address these issues ahead of time so that it’s not necessary to make spur-of-the-moment decisions about care.
From diagnosis to treatment, mesothelioma is an extremely expensive disease. Medical bills pile up rapidly and can be overwhelming. Some seniors are fortunate enough to have retained good medical insurance – sometimes from a past employer – that will cover most of the costs of cancer treatment. However, others will need to turn to Medicare or Medicaid (which won’t cover everything) and may find themselves short when it comes to compiling funds to pay their astronomical medical bills.
Again, family members may need to enter the picture here and help with the bills. However, if that’s not possible, caregivers may need to spend time searching for resources that can help cover the cost of care. In many cases, victims and their families have chosen to file suit against those responsible for the asbestos exposure, hoping to gain compensation that will help pay for those exorbitant medical bills and make up for loss of income. This is a viable option, in many cases, and should be carefully considered.