Six in ten adults in the United States have at least one chronic disease, and four in ten have two or more. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in America. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease.
Living with a chronically-ill family member can be difficult and exhausting. You have to manage your own life and responsibilities, and you also have to take on the additional burden of caring for someone else. It can often feel like too much to handle, but there are ways to make it easier. Here’s what you need to know about caring for a chronically ill family member.
Understanding the Illness
The first step in caring for a chronically-ill family member is understanding the illness. To get started, talk to their doctor or healthcare provider and ask them questions about the condition and its symptoms.
Learn as much as you can about the treatment plan so that you can properly assist with medication schedules and any other needs they may have. Research online resources that can provide helpful information on how best to support your family member during their illness.
When you understand the illness, you can better understand their needs and the changes that may come with it. This will help you be prepared to do what is necessary to support them during their journey.
After researching the illness, you may even need to look for a reliable service providing hospice care at home. The caregiver is likely better equipped to care for your loved one. So, it’s a good idea to know more about your loved one’s condition.
It is crucial to create a plan so that you and your ill family member know what to expect each day. This includes making sure that their medical appointments are scheduled in advance, medications are refilled when necessary, meals are planned out, and any other tasks that need to be done are organized.
Planning will help reduce stress for everyone involved and make it easier for you to keep track of all the necessary steps to manage the illness effectively. It also gives you a sense of control and can help make difficult times easier to manage.
When you plan, you also give your loved one a feeling of safety and security, knowing that their needs are being taken care of. Make sure to include activities that involve both of you in the plan so that it becomes a shared experience and not just a task list to check off. This can foster a strong bond between you and help bring joy to your relationship, even during tough times.
When planning for the future, it’s essential to make sure that you have both short-term and long-term goals in place. Short-term goals could include:
- Having enough medication on hand.
- Make sure there are groceries in the house.
- Scheduling regular check-ups with healthcare providers.
Long-term goals include:
- Finding ways to manage stress levels
- Exploring possible treatments for the illness
- Setting up a support system of family and friends who can help when needed.
Creating a Support Network
Caring for someone with a chronic illness can sometimes be overwhelming, so building a support network of friends and family who can assist when needed is essential. Having someone available and willing to lend an extra hand or listen when things become too difficult is essential. It will ensure that you and your family can cope more easily over time.
It would help if you also considered joining an online support group or connecting with others dealing with similar issues. This allows you to share tips on providing care without feeling overwhelmed or alone in your struggles.
Additionally, consider attending a support group or speaking to a qualified therapist if you find yourself overwhelmed by the challenges of caring for someone with a chronic illness.
Finally, remember to take care of yourself. You may be tempted to put your own needs aside so that you can provide care for your family member, but this is not sustainable in the long run. Make sure to schedule regular breaks and practice self-care to remain strong and resilient throughout the caregiving journey.
By creating a support network and taking time to care for yourself, you can ensure that you and your family members can cope with the demands of living with a chronic illness more easily. Taking care of a chronically-ill family member can be daunting, but having the right tools in place will make it manageable over time. Understanding their condition, preparing ahead of time, and creating a supportive environment can help you and your loved one deal with their illness. With these tips in mind, families facing chronic illness will have access to the resources they need to navigate this tough journey together successfully.