A cancer diagnosis is devastating for any patient regardless of age. For seniors and loved ones, there are a lot of things to think about after getting the news.
Quality of life
Sanford Health Nurse Practitioner Nichole Hassebroek specializes in oncology and palliative care at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. She works with seniors battling cancer every day.
“You do have to think about quality of life. There’s definitely not a cookie cutter treatment or not one size fits all,” Nichole says. “A lot of times it’s really just sitting down with the patient, with their family, talking about their diagnosis.”
She says there are many factors to consider from the patient’s age to their living situation.
“You know, what their support system looks like as well as their overall health. People that are older sometimes have more chronic or underlying conditions that we need to consider when talking about cancer treatment,” Nichole says.
Underlying conditions such as kidney, heart, lung or liver disease can affect treatment strategy along an older patient’s cancer journey.
“We would want to talk about potential side effects or potential complications that can happen from that regimen. As well as looking at if that regimen is maybe a little bit harder on one body system or organ than another type of treatment,” Nichole says.
Being a support system
Seniors in need of cancer treatment who do not have a solid support system at home can rely on Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society. There are home-based care services and skilled-nursing centers available.
“We have a lot of patients that maybe while they’re on treatment need more assistance with home care,” Nichole says. “Maybe they have more medications than they had before.”
There are staff members across the country willing to meet you where you are.
“Our team is here to make sure that you know what all your options are but that we’re going to support you through whatever your journey looks like,” Nichole says.