Cancer and Your Elderly Loved One: Showing Your Support

Cancer and Your Elderly Loved One: Showing Your Support

According to an article on cancer and the elderly from Scientific American in 2014, more than half of U.S. cancer patients are 65 years or older and it is expected that by 2030, the figure will rise to about 70%. Cancer affects individuals of all ages, but the disease is the leading cause of death in Americans between 60 and 79 years old. While many elderly individuals have lived a “long and fruitful” life, a cancer diagnosis should not be viewed any differently than if an elderly man or woman was 30 or 40 years younger.


If an elderly parent, grandparent, or even family friend has been recently diagnosed with cancer, it’s important for him or her to have a support system. Here are ways to assist your loved one in finding the care he or she needs and the support that he or she deserves:

Selecting a Care Facility


Whether an older individual has been diagnosed with an early stage of melanoma or an aggressive cancer like mesothelioma, finding the right care facility is important for receiving specialized care and treatment. While many individuals seek treatment at their local clinic or hospital, the treatment of some cancers may be more effective when administered at a specialty cancer center. Searching the insurance provider’s network directory, asking a primary doctor for a recommendation, or checking out maps and other resources on the National Cancer Institute website, are just a few ways to find the most suitable cancer care facility.

Working Together as a Family


An individual’s cancer diagnosis can affect his or her family members differently. While spouse may feel hopeful and calm, an adult child may feel stressed out and hopeless about the future. Regardless of any differing opinions or feelings surrounding a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, it’s crucial that everyone in the family comes together and works to be a supportive and positive team.


If possible, gather together as a family (including the elderly individual with cancer) and have a honest yet productive conversation about the future. Ask your elderly loved one what they need or want from others. How can you, as a group, be helpful? If he or she is independent and active, he or she may resist help. Respect his or her needs and wants and try not to take total control. For instance, create a calendar that can be shared, edited, and synced with everyone else. Assess your loved one’s situation and take turns with daily living activities, such as bathing and dressing, or instrumental activities, such as finances, medications, and other tasks around the house.

Learn About the Treatment


Cancer treatment often affects elderly individuals differently than someone decades younger. In order to gain a better understanding of the diagnosis and treatment plan, accompany your elderly loved one to doctor’s appointments. By talking with his or her doctor and keeping track of any pertinent information, you can be the second set of eyes and ears during a confusing, emotional, and overwhelming time.

Categories: Parenting Tips
Tags: care, elderly, elders

About Author

Write a Comment


Reload Image