CANCER AS AN ELDERLY PERSON
Posted on July 18 2022
Elderly people with cancer often experience the disease differently from younger people. In addition to the usual difficulties of cancer and its treatment, there is loneliness and the feeling of being a burden on the family. But they also find it easier to relativize problems, and this can help them to coexist with the oncological process. Most people diagnosed with cancer are over the age of 50. The efficacy of treatments and the lengthening of general life expectancy are leading to an increasing number of people with cancer in old age. This poses new challenges, as this population experiences the disease with particular characteristics.
Vital change in elderly people with cancer
In recent years, cancer treatment has become increasingly effective and is detected earlier. This contributes to the fact that the majority of people with this disease are cured (currently about 60%). Therefore, the experience of having gone through cancer gives rise to changes that some people may experience as opportunities.
Some people have had cancer in old age and see their recovery as an opportunity that they can take advantage of: They start new activities (crafts, travel, etc.) and change the way they live the small difficulties of everyday life: They learn to relativize the importance of problems and live them with less concern. They also try to spend more time with family and friends. These changes are observed more often in women than in men.
Cancer is still a very difficult experience. But it can become a reason to make positive changes in people's lives if they see the opportunity. It is something that not everyone can do, due to life circumstances or past experiences. But when it is achieved, it can help them discover things about themselves that they didn't know.
How to help elderly people with cancer
The support of the social environment helps to live with cancer. Being able to talk openly about the disease, concern for the family, etc., helps to lighten the burden. Keep in mind that older people face loneliness and the feeling of being a burden to others, and this may cause them not to talk about as much as they would like to talk about.
We can ask them directly to tell us what we can do for them, as their needs may change often. Sometimes the best help they can have is to talk about the illness or go for a walk with someone and talk about other issues. Or they may feel like being alone and quiet should be more than enough. In this case they are not rejecting our company, they just need some quiet time.
As mentioned above, the increase in life expectancy also means that there are more situations of dependency. Whether for medical visits, home care and so on, there are more and more professionals dedicated to helping elderly people with cancer to maintain their quality of life.
If necessary, we can ask for professional help to face the changes, good and bad, that may come. This can be done by a physician, a psychologist who is an expert in helping people with cancer or even a religious guide if it is in accordance with his or her beliefs. These supports are also useful when the cancer cannot be cured. In this case, the person may need to review his or her life and leave matters unfinished before leaving, such as ensuring the well-being of the family.
These are all just a few ideas that can help you help your loved ones, keep in mind that every situation and person is different, and you must do what works best for you and your loved ones.
“Cancer cannot cripple love, it cannot shatter hope, it cannot conquer the spirit.”