Chronic Illness, Your Loved One, And You

More people are being affected by serious chronic conditions than ever before. More of us have to care for, support, and assist those living with them. As well as the obvious challenges they bring up in the sufferer’s life, they also affect those closest to them, especially their family. If you have a loved one with a serious chronic illness that forces them to be dependent on you, you have to be careful and manage your own emotional health or else you could suffer from the growing rates of carer burnout.

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Don’t go in blind

One mistake that can lead to more stress than necessary is the expectation that you already know all you need to know about a condition or, perhaps, you may be unwilling to learn the extent to which it affects your loved one. You can help by doing your own research on a condition or by attending doctors’ visits with your loved one if they permit it or need support. Most important of all, you can ask them about it, as an experience with many chronic conditions are wholly personal. Besides being able to understand the limitations a condition imposes, you might also be able to find health tips that can help them manage their independence.

Don’t do it alone

Even more important is that you don’t feel like you have to take their care entirely on your shoulders if there is support available. Talking with other close loved ones about the challenges you face as a carer could help them share your burden some more. But you can also find those experts who are able to provide help that may be more effective than what you can offer. If your loved one has a form of dementia, you can find memory care that can help them retain some of their independence for longer, instead of simply looking after them. There is always help out there if you’re willing to look for it. It’s not a failure to rely on those with expertise where you don’t have it.

Don’t keep it bottled up

Depending on the condition affecting your loved one, the demands on you can be tough. Ignoring the stress or frustration this can cause might feel like the right thing to do, but it only increases the chance of it becoming too much to bear down the line. Talk to someone about the trouble you’re having, whether it’s a close family member, your loved one’s doctor, or a support group dealing with the same challenges you are. Besides getting it off your chest, you might very well receive some practical advice that can stop stress levels from getting that high in future.

From long-term physical disabilities to memory conditions like dementia, your loved one’s chronic conditions may have demands on you that you aren’t initially ready for. While you want to do what’s in your power to help, make sure that you’re not sabotaging yourself for the sake of them. It only does more harm to you both in the end.

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