Cancer itself is an extremely difficult disease for seniors, their caregivers, and their families to deal with. Not only is cancer life-threatening, but the treatment itself is often very hard on the cancer patient. It can cause many side effects. One common side effect of cancer treatment is anemia. Anemia happens when the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry appropriate amounts of oxygen throughout the body. Usually, when anemia begins, there are no noticeable symptoms. However, if anemia is not treated, symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and swelling in the hands or feet will soon appear. Knowing how to manage anemia in older adults with cancer can help make their treatment and recovery period easier. Below are some tips for dealing with cancer-related anemia.
Know the Signs of Anemia
The first step in managing anemia is being able to recognize its symptoms. It’s important to let the senior’s doctor know if you notice signs of anemia since there are medical treatments that can help. Some signs to watch for are:
- The older adult seems more tired than usual. The tiredness makes it hard for them to manage regular day-to-day activities.
- Chest pain or trouble breathing when they are active.
- Skin, nail beds, or gums that appear paler than normal.
- The senior complains of dizziness or feeling weak.
- Stool looks bright or dark red.
- Vomit is dark brown or bright red.
Elder care providers can help family caregivers to watch for these symptoms. If they notice symptoms, the elder care provider can report them to family members, so they can seek medical attention for the senior.
Allow the Senior to Conserve Energy
Since anemia can cause fatigue, it’s a good idea to allow the older adult to rest through the day. They should save their energy for activities that are important to them, such as attending medical appointments and spending time with family and friends. Elder care providers can give older adults the opportunity to rest by taking care of household tasks that may be too strenuous, such as cleaning and cooking.
Offer Healthy Foods and Drinks
Eating a healthy diet can make the body stronger overall. In addition, eating foods that are high in iron can help combat anemia. Some iron rich foods are:
- Dark green leafy vegetables.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Raisins and prunes.
- Bread that has been enriched with iron.
Elder care providers can make healthy foods and snacks for the senior. Since eating is sometimes difficult during cancer treatment, an elder care provider can also offer smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN ZEBULON, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.
Kathy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) who is active in several other senior related organizations, including Alzheimer’s State Champion program, Friends of the Northern Wake Senior Center board member, Ambassador for the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce, Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Health Affairs Round Table (HART), and Senior Information Networking Group (SING).