Does Your Loved One Have a Chronic Illness? How You Can Help?
People of all ages can have chronic health conditions. These illnesses can drastically affect how patients function. It's often difficult for family members, friends, and caregivers to know what they can do to best support those with chronic illnesses. Luckily, All About Our Skin has some tips and resources to make the process a little easier.
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What Are Chronic Illnesses?
Chronic illnesses typically develop slowly, possibly worsening over time. Although treatments are available, chronic conditions can't be cured.
Symptoms are different for each person and disease, but there are several common problems patients may experience:
- Chronic pain and fatigue
Constant, monotonous aches, pains, and other similar issues
High depression risk
Potential for disability or functional impairment
Specialized medical care
These symptoms are a constant reminder of a long-term illness, and some patients have trouble coping. Some patients benefit from mental health therapy to help them come to terms with their disease and its effect on their lives.
How Can You Offer Support?
A chronic illness can make patients feel that they suffer alone. One of the best ways you can support a loved one is by letting them know you're there. Listen to them and offer encouragement.
You can also perform helpful tasks for them:
- Run errands
Drive them to appointments
Offer to walk with them around the neighborhood or to a nearby errand
Cook and clean
Take care of their children
Take them on fun outings or have a movie night
These people may not be comfortable asking for help, so don't assume they have things under control just because they don't mention it. You can also research support groups, whether local or online, for people with similar illnesses. Carefully choose the time you'll present the results.
You can also show an interest in learning more about their condition. Don't present the answers as if you are a medical professional, but share content in a kind and supportive way to show that you care and are invested in their wellbeing. For instance, some chronic conditions (like anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia) can be worsened by caffeine consumption because it is a stimulant and a diuretic, so you could research the caffeine content of their drinks and potential options with low or no caffeine.
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Are There Things You Shouldn't Say?
People diagnosed with chronic illnesses don't need to hear cliches, false encouragement, or judgment. They probably don't want you to ask how they're feeling today or what the latest doctor said.
Allure recommends that you don't say things like:
- It could be worse.
I'm sure you'll feel better soon.
You don't look sick.
If you can still do all these things, are you sure you're really sick?
You know that taking medications long-term can have side effects, right?
I know how you feel.
Think about how your words would affect you if the situation was reversed. Treat that person with the same dignity and respect that you'd appreciate.
Does Their Home Need Modifications?
If the chronic disease is physically debilitating, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund notes that some home modifications may be needed. This is especially true for those who work at home, whether by choice or because they're unable to travel to work anymore. A well-designed, organized home office can make life easier.
Some elements to include are:
Depending on your loved one's disease and condition, some factors are more important to consider than others when designing a home office. You can complete this project alone, but it's better to follow the patient's lead.
Do You Know Someone With a Chronic Illness?
Whether you're a distant acquaintance or close family member, anyone with a chronic disease can benefit from a kind word. Understand that their condition is real and may impact their ability to do things and think of ways you can help them.