4 Things You Can Do for Seniors Undergoing Chemo

Below is a posting sent to me by a colleague, Jim Vogel.  Good information here on caring for an older loved one going though chemotherapy.


Chemotherapy is hard on anyone, regardless of age. However, seniors who go through the treatment often experience greater difficulty as a result. Already at risk of losing their independence, seniors are far more likely to become dependent and depressed as a result. While they may not be able to avoid some loss of independence, there are things that can be done to help maintain as much independence as possible. Here are a few things you can do to help an aging loved one through chemotherapy.

1. Do Some Cleaning

One of the most stressful aspects for people receiving chemo is the inability to do basic things like clean the house. Imagine being unable to tidy up and watching the clutter build up around you. The stress of having a messy home and being unable to clean it can easily lead to problems like anxiety and depression. So, once a week or even more if you are able, stop by your loved one’s home. Pick up some of the clutter, do the dishes, and wipe down some of the messier surfaces. Having a clean home can alleviate a surprising amount of stress for someone undergoing chemo.

2. Offer Help with Pet Care

While your loved one may be able to do basic things such as feeding or brushing their pet, they may not be getting the exercise they need. If you have 15 minutes to spare, offer to take their dog on a walk around the block or spend the time playing with their cat. If you don’t have the time but know your loved one needs help with their pet, try hiring a freelance dog walker. They can also be very helpful for overnight visits when your loved one is simply not feeling up to caring for their pet.

3. Grocery Shopping Always Helps

Not only will grocery shopping be a huge help to your loved one, but you can also ensure that their home is stocked with healthy, beneficial foods. Certain foods are shown to have cancer-fighting properties while others boost immunity, alleviate nausea, and much more. Light foods such as dried fruits and crackers are great for helping combat nausea while light meals before chemo can actually prevent nausea.

4. Consider Researching Assisted Living

Many people lead tremendously busy lives today, and some seniors may not have the luxury of having familial assistance due to busy family members or family who lives too far away to help frequently. A number of assisted living facilities offer temporary stays for circumstances such as chemotherapy and recovery help. While having family around may be best, assisted living can be an enormous help for a busy family.

Of course, due to its expense, assisted living may not be an option for everyone. And indeed, many seniors undergoing chemo will prefer to stay in their current home. In those cases, they might hire in-home help. Many companies can help seniors connect with nurses, nurse’s aides, or other caregivers who can come to the home for a certain time each day to give the senior the help they need.

Helping someone you care about cope with cancer treatments is never easy. You may feel unprepared to help your loved one through the experience. However, you do not need to take care of every facet of their care. “Help” can be as simple as stopping by once a week with some groceries and spare time to clean up. Of course, if you feel your family cannot keep up with the needs of your loved one, professional help is always an option and should not be overlooked. The most important thing is to let your loved one know you care in whatever way you can.

Jim Vogel created ElderAction.org along with his wife after they became caregivers for their aging parents. The site is dedicated to promoting senior health and providing valuable information to seniors and their caregivers to help ensure our nation’s seniors are able to thrive throughout their golden years.

Image via Pixabay by brenkee