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Having a loved one being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be a difficult time for the whole family. Along with the mental stress, it also adds responsibilities on the shoulders of family members to contribute towards coping with the illness. Chronic illnesses can be of different types such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune, etc., each with its own set of symptoms and challenges.
According to research, having the support of family and friends makes it easier for those with chronic conditions to cope and maintain good physical and mental health. This article by Situational Wellness Concepts will explore the various ways you can be a pillar of support for a loved one facing a chronic illness.
Educate Yourself About the Illness
Post diagnosis, strive to learn as much as you can about the illness. This includes reading health articles, joining online groups, and if possible visiting their doctor(s) to understand how you can help them cope with the illness.
Take the initiative to be an outlet for them who they can trust. Convey the research you have done, regularly check up on them and ask if they need assistance. They are more likely to confide in you if they feel they will be understood. Hence, when they do make an effort to speak, be a good listener and give suggestions only when asked.
Additionally, if you plan to undertake caregiving duties, it can be useful to pursue an online nursing degree. It will allow you to provide your loved one a higher level of care, develop an in-depth understanding of their condition, and significantly reduce healthcare costs.
Adapt to Their Needs
With the onset of the illness, behavioral changes are normal. Adapting to these changes can prove difficult at first, however, it’s important to remain patient and be understanding of their needs. For instance, don’t feel offended if they turn down your invitation to go shopping, for dinner, or other recreational activities. With their condition, they may not feel comfortable being in public, fear having to deal with an emergency, or simply may not have the motivation to do so.
Instead of pushing them to come, ask them if they need anything from the store or whether you should get their favorite dish delivered home from the restaurant. Similarly, when they do show a willingness to venture outdoors, provide them the assurance that you will be there for support.
Give them Their Space
As reported by Elizz, while it is important to extend support when needed, it is equally important to help your loved ones maintain their independence. This can include doing household chores, activities of daily living (ADLs), doctor visits, etc.
Having clear and honest communication between you and them is essential to avoid overstepping boundaries. For instance, you may see them struggling to cook for themselves in the kitchen. Rather than jumping in and overtaking the activity, you can wait for them to ask for assistance. Similarly, while you may feel the need to check in with them each hour, over time it can get overbearing and annoying. Allow them their space to pursue activities they like and do not make all conversations about their health or medications.
Ask for Their Help
Often those with chronic illness consider themselves as a burden, as they depend on others for support and help. Allowing them a chance to do the same for you is an effective way to improve their morale and confidence.
Depending on their skills and traits, ask them to help you with finances, making business decisions, relationships, and more. If their health permits, include them in projects across the house such as painting, gardening, ad-hoc repairs, etc.
Through these activities, you can achieve a sense of normalcy in your household and help your loved ones feel that they do not need to be defined by their condition.
When it comes to coping with a chronic illness, family plays a big role in helping individuals to cope. While you may not have answers to all the questions, focus on being compassionate and supporting your loved one to your fullest potential.
This piece is somewhat left field of the content normally posted here at Situational Wellness, in that, the mission is to present information that promotes self reliance to achieve practical health goals predominately through natural means. Never the less, many of us know someone who is not (physically and or mentally) capable of taking a call to action in addressing those things on their own.
This is why many are posed with the responsibility of being depended on due to the fact they are often the only ones available to aid in handling the care-taking priorities of that particular loved one. In short, they need us!
With that said and known, as I mentioned before here and in other posts, the focus is on natural solutions to give the body what it needs to be fortified healing and or maintaining itself. So I feel it’s important to mention that, one of the links in the piece makes a reference to “encouraging the individual to take prescribed medication.” This is something that is not endorsed or supported here at Situational wellness.
So, I myself would do everything in my power to help the aforementioned loved one to find solutions outside of the allopathic model, lest, of course, all of the natural options have been unsuccessful and those medications are an absolute last resort. At the very least, I would do my homework to find out what the side effects of these meds are and weigh out pros and cons from there if it were me.
All in all, this is a great piece Phillip has presented for giving some very productive direction to implement due to the fact it is often stressful and taxing on the mind and soul to undertake the priority of being a caretaker for a loved one.
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