When you live with lung cancer, having the support of a caregiver at home may improve your quality of life, including your mood and stress levels. It may also help you have more energy and time for other things that are important to you.

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Home care may relieve stress and help you cope with other challenges related to living with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). A caregiver may become an essential support for everyday needs.

NSCLC causes symptoms like:

  • fatigue
  • coughing
  • loss of appetite
  • trouble breathing

Treatments also have side effects, including infections, nausea, vomiting, and pain.

These symptoms can make your day-to-day life more challenging. You may need help with daily tasks, like bathing, getting dressed, shopping for groceries, and taking medication.

Home care can help you maintain your independence. It provides many services you’d get from a medical professional’s office or hospital without the commute or wait times.

A few different types of providers may care for you at home:

  • Registered nurse (RN): They can work with your healthcare team to develop and implement a care plan. An RN can care for wounds, help you take your medication, give you injectable medication, and monitor the effectiveness of your treatment, as well as any side effects you may experience.
  • Home health aide: They may help with daily to-dos, like getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, and walking. Some health aides will also do chores like cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking.
  • Social worker: They may help with the emotional and economic aspects of living with cancer. They can connect you to resources in your community to help you pay for the cost of your treatment and manage the stress of a cancer diagnosis.
  • Physical therapist (PT): A PT can teach you exercises to improve your strength and flexibility to ensure you keep or regain mobility and physical independence.
  • Occupational therapist (OT): They may show you shortcuts to accomplish daily tasks, like bathing or cooking, more easily.
  • Dietitian: They can help you plan meals that fit your individual nutritional needs, including decreasing the chance of medication side effects or low absorption.

Some home care organizations deliver meals or medications to you. Others supply equipment, like breathing machines and oxygen tanks.

To start looking for home healthcare agencies in your area, you may want to ask the doctor who treats your lung cancer for a referral.

Another option is to hire an independent care provider. You will cover payroll taxes, Social Security payments, and unemployment insurance for an independent caregiver.

To ensure you work with a company that meets your needs and holds high quality standards, consider asking if they are:

You may also want to get and verify references. You can ask the agency for the names and phone numbers of cancer doctors and people who have used their services before. Researching the company online and reading reviews are also good ideas.

Once you’ve found a reputable company, consider listing the services you think you’ll need. Also, consider how often you’ll need care — for example, just a few hours a day, nearly all day, or overnight.

Here are a few other questions to ask when you’re evaluating a home care company:

  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you create a care plan for each client? What information does it include?
  • How much do these services cost?
  • What services have an additional cost to your primary offering or the plan we’re discussing?
  • Do you carry malpractice and liability insurance?
  • Could I get a copy of those documents?
  • Are your caregivers licensed and bonded?
  • Will I get a copy of their license?
  • How many references do you check when hiring new employees (ideally, at least two)?
  • Do you run background checks on each of your employees?
  • How do you train and supervise your caregivers?
  • Is financial aid available to help me pay for the cost of in-home care?
  • Do you have a 24-hour phone service in case any questions or problems arise?

While you’re receiving cancer treatment, palliative care may help you feel better. This type of home care focuses on relieving cancer symptoms like pain as well as side effects from treatments to improve your quality of life.

Doctors, nurses, and social workers can each provide palliative care. They offer support to both you and your family members.

Palliative care isn’t the same as hospice care.

Hospice care also helps with pain, anxiety, and other symptoms to keep you comfortable. But you get hospice care in the final stages of cancer when treatments stop working or you decide to discontinue your treatment plan.

Home care can be a big help but comes with a price tag. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies can help cover the cost. You may need to send in documentation to prove that home care is medically necessary. Your healthcare professional may help you with this by filling out a form or writing a letter explaining why you require the care at home.

Health insurance typically won’t cover the cost of around-the-clock care, but some exceptions may apply. It’s likely that they won’t cover services like cleaning, cooking, or running errands.

Lung cancer may affect multiple aspects of your daily routine. You may need help with tasks like bathing, shopping, and dressing, as well as support to handle the emotional part of living with cancer. Having a caregiver at home may help you regain independence and have more time and energy for other things in your life.