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Managing Pancreatic Cancer in the Senior Years

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A pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be stressful, and your senior loved one will have to remain strong if he or she wants the best chance of beating the disease. Part of your loved one’s fight involves knowing what to expect in the weeks to come and how to manage each challenge. Oakville, ON, elder care experts discuss a few of the factors that come into play when managing pancreatic cancer in the senior years.

Abdominal and Back Pain

Not only does pancreatic cancer cause chronic discomfort throughout the midsection, but the treatments can produce some painful side effects as well. In addition to pain medications, seniors and their Oakville, ON, caregivers should spend some time researching nerve blockers. Unlike oral painkillers, nerve blockers are injected directly into a cluster of nerves. Depending on the extent of the pain, most nerve blockers work for 6 to 12 months. 

Emotional Health

Overcoming the psychological and emotional challenges of a cancer diagnosis can be difficult at any age. Seniors often find themselves experiencing depression, anxiety, severe mood swings, and even PTSD after a diagnosis. Though you are sure to notice some changes to your loved one’s personality, you should keep an eye out for lingering issues. A therapist can help your loved one work through his or her emotions and maintain a positive outlook on life. 

Inadequate Insulin Production

Even minor damage to the pancreas can result in massive changes to insulin levels, which is why many seniors with pancreatic cancer develop type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes within months of their initial diagnosis. A healthy diet filled with fresh produce and lean protein sources should be your loved one’s first line of defense against cancer, but he or she might also have to use insulin shots or patches. 

Extreme Weight Loss

One of the most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer is weight loss. Losing weight too rapidly makes it difficult for seniors to exercise, and it can weaken their immune system over time. Supplements and protein shakes can be used to treat this symptom temporarily, but your loved one should also work with a dietitian to explore long-term solutions. The dietitian might suggest anti-nausea pills and other forms of medication to increase your loved one’s appetite when he or she is not feeling well.

If your loved one needs help managing pancreatic cancer or another serious condition, consider hiring a live-in home caregiver in Oakville. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers can provide transportation to and from medical appointments, offer emotional support, and help with important tasks like bathing, cooking, and light housekeeping. For more information on our at-home care services, call (905) 337-1200 today.