It’s a difficult time for all when a loved one is diagnosed with a chronic illness. However, you can feel guilty for struggling with the changes even though they haven’t happened to you, but to someone else. Instead, you should be trying to help the person it is effecting and ignoring your own feelings. This is not true. To support your loved one, you also need to support yourself. It is not selfish to do so; in fact, it can help you become a better and stronger support system. Here’s how to care for someone with a chronic illness, without forgetting about your own needs.
Accept That You Are Powerless
You want to do everything in your power to help them, however, you need to understand that you cannot find a magic cure. It can be tough to accept how powerless you are, but you need to spend your energy supporting them, not trying to fix them. They want to spend time with you without their illness taking its toll on your life, so try and enjoy each other’s company.
Understand their Illness
The first step to understanding their illness is to research. Ask your loved one to explain it to you, and if they do not want to, do not push them. You can speak to a doctor and nurse, and you can even look online (however, only click-through to reputable medicine sites). Learn about their symptoms, the causes, and how you could possibly help them with certain issues. Having an intellectual understanding means you can empathize.
Be Mindful of their Needs
There may come a time when their needs don’t make sense to you, but you should be mindful and accept them. If they don’t want to hang out with you one day, then understand that they wish to spend some time on their own. Alternatively, if they wish to see you but you may not feel up to it, support and visit them, even if it’s only for an hour after work. One of the best ways to help someone with a chronic illness, is to simply be there for them.
Consider Your Words Carefully
Putting our foot in our mouth is only human, however, you must consider what you’re about to say beforehand. Validate their pain, and do not brush off how they’re feeling. Like everyone else, they want to be heard. When they’re in pain, listen to them and only respond with words of confidence and understanding. If they say they’re depressed, take them seriously and don’t undermine them. Instead, give them the strength to persevere.
Help with Appointments
Help them compare health insurance, and help them get to and from appointments. You want them to have easy hospital access and be comfortable with the hospital and their staff. Check their doctors and nurses and ask your loved one for their opinion. If they need assistance with their medication or a lift, make yourself available.
It can be hard at first for you to adjust. However, you need to remember that your loved one will be feeling far worse. Instead of letting chronic illness drive a wedge between you two, work together and support each other.