Support for Patients, Family Members, and Caregivers
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Staying Connected

One of the biggest challenges that long-distance friends and relatives have when their loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma is keeping up with the patient’s ongoing prognosis, the daily changes and overall health conditions.

It’s difficult to stay connected when you live far away. However, there are some things that both the caregiver and the concerned loved ones can do to make sure everyone is informed about the situation. This ranges from options that will keep groups of concerned people up-to-date to more personalized solutions.

Social Media

One of the best and easiest ways to keep up with the daily changes that a mesothelioma diagnosis can bring is to use social media. Social media are forms of electronic communication that allows users to connect via online communities. This allows for quick updates about the patient’s experiences and condition. There are several kinds:

  • Facebook -- Founded in 2004, Facebook is an online social networking site that allows users to become friends, exchange messages and post automatic notifications. Users can set up personal pages that can be viewed by an unlimited number of people or closed group pages that allow access to only certain members. To date, there are up to 1.1 billion monthly users.
  • Twitter -- Known as a microblogging site, this allows users to send and receive message that are up to 140 characters, known as tweets. These tweets allow readers access to immediate information. Created in 2006, there are more than 500 million registered users.
  • Text Messaging -- This is a fast method of communicating to either one person or a group. Make sure you and the people you are texting have texting plans or you and they will be charged per text.

Start A Blog

For years, blogs have been used as a way to get information out to large amounts of people. Many personal blogs include daily information and musings about private events, just like a diary. Starting a blog is a great tool for a caregiver or mesothelioma patient who wants to disburse large amounts of information in a timely fashion. It could also be a great task for a close family member who wants to help. There are several avenues to blogging:

  • Carepages -- This site allows visitors to easily create personal blogs with a specific focus on health issues. Used primarily by patients experiencing health concerns, including mesothelioma, Carepages.com allow visitors to utilize discussion forums and view other blogs and webpages.
  • Family Website -- There are many websites that allow visitors to create personalized websites. Websites allow the users to include text, photos and graphics so it can serve as an instant family newsletter. Again, this could be a great job for the patient, caregiver or a concerned loved one who wants to help.

Use A Webcam

Most computers are now equipped with a webcam that allows for quick and easy video chatting. Set up regular weekly times for web chats with close family and friends. While this won’t reach a wide amount of people, it does allow for more personalize communication:

  • Skype -- This offers free long-distance telephone and webcam calls, even overseas. Both parties need a Skype account and a webcam. Skype also offers monthly rate plans for calls from a Skype phone number.
  • Google Talk -- Similar to Skype, Google Talk allows family and friends to communicate on a video platform. Like Skype, Google Talk also allows for non-video conversations via a headset.

Keep The Relationship A Priority

No matter your part in the relationship -- the patient, caregiver, family member or friend -- it is important to keep the relationship a priority. Sometimes the new media is just too impersonal or difficult, so more traditional methods of communications should be used. There are simple ways to keep in touch:

  • Phone Cards -- Some people, especially those who are less technologically advanced, prefer to use just a telephone to communicate. You can help this process by gifting some pre-paid phone cards.
  • Scrapbook -- If you have some great memories from a fun time with the patient and want to share them, create a scrapbook or a photo book. This can easily be done online through most of the personal publishing websites or hands-on with products purchased at local craft stores.

No matter how you choose to stay in touch, it is important to everyone involved that the lines of communication be open.

Sources:

  1. Constine, Josh. “Facebook Mobile User Counts Revealed: 192M Android, 147M iPhone, 48M iPad, 56M Messenger.” Techcrunch.com. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/04/how-many-mobile-users-does-facebook-have/
  2. Stockton, K.M. “How to Keep in Touch with Long-Distance Family and Friends.” Yahoo! Voices. Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/how-keep-touch-long-distance-family-and-7787564.html?cat=41
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