How to Care for Your Loved One Living with Chronic Illness in 5 Simple Ways
By following these five simple steps, you can provide much-needed support to your loved ones living with chronic illness
Chronic illness, a difficult reality to face; leaving one in three people struggling with their social and basic needs.
On one hand, your loved one living with a chronic illness may feel overwhelmed and exhausted by their condition. On the other hand, you, the carer, may feel frustrated and helpless as you try to support them.
It's incredibly demanding to manage chronic illnesses. However, it's worth trying everything you can to make your loved one feel comfortable while battling it out.
You can help your loved one cope with a chronic illness by following these 5 simple steps.
Understand their condition
The last thing you want when a loved one is experiencing a crisis because of their illness is to be clueless on what to do .
You don't want to be running helter-skelter, searching for help, when you can avoid such situations by learning everything you can about their ailments. Because only then can managing it become a little easier.
You'll get to understand their symptoms and be able to develop a practical plan that can work in their favour.
Plus, arming yourself with the right knowledge means you’ll be up-to-date about new treatments and therapies to help you make informed decisions about their care.
That’s not all.
While you can't relate totally to how they feel, you'll get a better perception of what they're going through if you learn about their condition. You’ll also be able to discuss their care with their healthcare providers without stress.
What can you do to understand their chronic illness?
- Learn about the symptoms of their condition, how to treat them, and how to manage the illness.
- Learn about any potential side effects of their treatment, and how to deal with them.
- You'll also want to know what medications they take, how often they should be taken, and when they're needed.
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Listen and be supportive
No one likes to feel unheard or neglected.
That's why you need to listen and pay close attention to your loved ones. It'll help you understand their illness and how it’s affecting them. And you'll also get to know what they need to feel better.
Being supportive means you have to be there for them, physically and emotionally. From helping with day-to-day tasks, providing emotional support, and offering words of encouragement.
Doing this will help you create a stronger bond with your loved ones and remind them they're not alone. It'll also help them feel more comfortable discussing their condition with you, so you can both work on strategies for managing their illness.
How can you support your loved ones when managing their chronic illness?
- Ask questions about their symptoms and how they're feeling to help you understand what they're going through.
- Be patient. They may not want to talk about their condition or symptoms. You have to make them feel comfortable enough to open up to you. That way, you’ll be able to manage their chronic condition effectively.
- Be open-minded and listen attentively when they tell you what they need. It’s important not to judge or criticise their decisions, even if it seems irrational. Remember, they have the right to make choices about their own health care and well-being.
- Be honest about what you can do for them. This will help them feel more confident about asking for help if they need it.
- Encourage them to talk with their doctor or therapist about any specific challenges they may face as a result of their illness. This will help the professionals understand how their clients' illnesses is affecting them and what kind of help they might need.
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Keep track of their medical information and share it when necessary
Keeping track of their medical information will help you identify any changes in their health that may require intervention. This ensures they get the best possible care.
You need to keep track of the diagnosis of their illness, treatment options and how they're progressing.
You'll also want to make sure that all of this information is shared with their healthcare provider and others responsible for making decisions about your loved one's care — including family members who might need to be involved in providing finances or personal care needs.
This information-sharing will keep everyone informed of their condition and treatment plan, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Ask for help when you need it
Managing your loved one’s chronic illness requires you to juggle many things.
You might find yourself cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, and still need to run errands or go to the store for their medications or other necessities.
All these can easily overwhelm you. And even if you feel like you can handle everything on your own, support from friends and family can make all the difference in your loved one's ability to cope.
It might be as basic as needing assistance with a household task, medication administration, or health monitoring issues.
By reaching out to friends, family, or even professionals, you'll reduce the burden of caring for your loved one. This gives you the opportunity to recharge and come back fresh, ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.
What this also means is that you can create a network of people who can offer both practical and emotional support.
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Take care of yourself
Before you can care for your loved one, you have to be in good health yourself. This way, you’ll be in optimal health to take better care of your loved one.
Caregiving can get very stressful. And if you become fatigued, you may feel overwhelmed and resentful.
Therefore, you need to pay attention to your emotional and physical health. And find ways to relax and de-stress.
That way, you can cope with the emotional and physical demands of caring for your loved one.
Here are some tips for managing your own health when caring for someone:
- Don't hesitate to see your doctor: Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding your health. They’ll be able to give you advice on steps to manage your symptoms.
- Don’t push yourself too hard: Protect yourself from unnecessary stress by taking breaks throughout the day and avoiding stressful situations.
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for all parts of your body and mind. The more sleep you get, the more energy and strength you have for managing your loved one's health.
- Eat healthy food: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day — they're full of vitamins and minerals that can help maintain a healthy immune system and fight off disease-causing germs better than processed foods.
- Exercise regularly: If possible, do some form of physical activity every day — walking, riding bikes, swimming, or dancing. It'll lower stress hormones in your body, improve mood, and protect you against heart disease and stroke.
Some other ways you can take care of yourself can be through spending time with friends and family, reading, listening to music, or participating in other activities you enjoy.
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Always find a balance
In caring for a loved one living with a chronic illness, it's important you find a balance between providing support and maintaining your own well-being. Too much care can lead to burnout, while not enough care can leave your loved one feeling unsupported.
By using simple tips in this blog, you can manage the challenges of caring for your loved one living with chronic illness. And create a more manageable caregiving experience.
You can also curate personalised treatment plans with our special care catalog to help you manage your loved one's health better.