Living with a chronic illness is a challenge not just for the person afflicted but for their loved ones as well.
It is important to understand that people with chronic illnesses often face not only physical limitations but also emotional and mental struggles.
As their family or friend, your support can help them cope with the challenges of their illness.
Here are some ways you can offer emotional and practical support to your loved one:
Educate yourself about your loved one's illness Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. This will help you understand their symptoms, treatment, and potential limitations. Ask your loved one how they would like to discuss their illness and respect their decision about how much they choose to disclose.
Listen without judgment Chronic illness can have a significant impact on a person's emotional and mental health. Your loved one may feel frustrated, angry or depressed. They may need someone to talk to about how they feel, without feeling judged or dismissed. Listen to them, offer emotional support or help them find a support group.
Help with household chores and other daily tasks Many chronic illnesses (like Lupus and RA) can cause fatigue and pain, which can make it difficult to manage everyday responsibilities. Your loved one may appreciate help with cooking, cleaning, and even grocery shopping. Offering to do these tasks with or for them can help alleviate the burden.
Offer practical support If your loved one has a medical appointment, offer to drive them to the doctor or accompany them to the appointment. Help them organize medical bills or research treatment options. Help them create a meal plan, exercise regimen or research products that may help ease their symptoms.
Contribute to their mental and emotional well-being Living with a chronic illness can be stressful, and it can impact a person's mental and emotional well-being. Offer to take them out for a movie, help them relax with a hobby or take a walk outside. Encourage them to take up activities they enjoy and help them find ways to manage their stress. Remind them, kindly and with their permission, to do the things that help keep them healthy - take their pills, drink water, get to bed earlier.
Be patient and kind Remember to be patient when they need more time for tasks, are in pain or feel exhausted. Chronic illness is not something that can be cured easily, and it can take time for your loved one to find a balance for living with their condition.
Supporting someone with a chronic illness means you have to be there for them through good days and bad ones. While their illness may be difficult for them, it can also be taxing on their loved ones. However, with love, compassion, and support, you can help make their journey a bit easier. Remember to take care of yourself too, so you can offer the best support possible.
Tanya - The Lupus Dietitian