When someone you love is hurting or suffering, you may feel completely helpless. You may be afraid to do or say the wrong thing, push them too hard, or even spend time together. It is normal to feel uneasy about caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. Here’s what you should know about those afflicted and how you can help.
- Listen. You do not have to say much or offer solutions. The more you listen, the more you will understand what they are going through and what you can do to offer support. Expect good and bad days.
- Learn. Be sure you understand the illness and the prognosis. Some illnesses may get worse over time, and some can get better. Plan to be at doctor’s appointments when possible and do some of your own research so you can plan for the frustrations your loved one may face.
- Enjoy your time together. When your loved one feels up to having company, make yourself available. A chronic illness can be isolating and frightening. Try to spend quality time together and embrace every moment.
- Offer help and follow through with it. Simple, daily tasks may become difficult for your loved one and they may be afraid or too embarrassed to ask for help. Watching children, grocery shopping, doing laundry and running errands will be truly appreciated.
- Leave the pity behind. Your loved one already knows they’re climbing an uphill battle, they don’t need a pity party to remind them. Stay positive and focus on the good times.