How Caregivers Can Help Multiple Myeloma Patients Manage 6 Common Problems

African American couple cooking together

Sometimes multiple myeloma patients can’t afford to hire a round-the-clock caretaker to monitor their condition at home. For patients with a wealth of family and friends ready to step in as caregivers, here is a list of some common problems identified by the American Cancer Society for those battling the disease and things caregivers can do if their loved one’s condition seems to be worsening at home.

In 2016, there will be an estimated 30,330 new cases of the blood cancer – which is twice as common in African Americans than in whites.

1. Anemia

A condition triggered by low blood hemoglobin.

Friends and family members can prepare balanced meals that include protein, clean the house and do any other activities around the house to keep the patient off their feet.

Meanwhile, look out for worsening tiredness in the patient, chest pains and shortness of breath during activities, pale skin/nail beds/gums, dizziness, weakness, discolored stool and dark brown or bright red vomit.

2. Poor appetite

This is sometimes a side effect of cancer treatment.

Caregivers can take turns giving the patient six to eight small meals and snacks daily – including starchy foods like potatoes and high-protein foods like fish and chicken. If the patient is turned off by the smell of the food, try serving bland foods cold or at room temperature. If that doesn’t help, offer a fruit smoothie or milkshake.

Make sure to call a physician if the patient feels nauseated or couldn’t eat for more than a day. Other things to look for include losing more than five pounds, smelly urine, vomiting for more than 24 hours or uncontrollable pain.

READ: There’s Hope For Multiple Myeloma Patients Who Can’t Have Transplant

3. Low blood platelets count

These are the cells that help clot the blood to prevent excessive bleeding.

If a nosebleed occurs, caregivers can help the patient sit up and tilt their head forward. This keeps the blood from dripping down the back of the throat. Put an ice pack on their nose and pinch the nostrils close for about five minutes. Patients should avoid any activity that can lead to injury and anti-inflammatory pain medicines like Motrin and Advil, unless otherwise instructed by a physician.

If the patient has trouble speaking or moving, call a physician.

READ: How To Manage Bone Pain From Multiple Myeloma