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Seven Suggestions for Supporting Loved Ones Enduring Chronic Illness

by Mary Shannon


Being diagnosed with and living with a chronic illness can be incredibly difficult. Fortunately, the exhaustion from managing a long-lasting condition can be mitigated with the aid of friends and family members. Try following these recommendations from Profiles in Catholicism to help relieve a loved one of some of the burden of a chronic illness.


1. Remain Compassionate


Caregivers can be forgotten when outsiders consider the needs of someone suffering from a chronic health problem. Care.com notes that the lack of attention and consideration may cause you to feel resentful and frustrated. Remind yourself that your loved one doesn't enjoy the position any more than you do, and communicate openly about your needs.


Pay attention to your own self-care to remain empathetic to the ailing person. And make sure that you are aware of your own stress levels. If you find yourself getting more headaches, suffering from intestinal problems, or struggling with insomnia, then take time for some intentional self care, including meditation and relaxation strategies.


2. Form a Team of Helpers


The primary physician can only accomplish so much, so seek other professionals who can provide treatment and advice in specialty areas. Always fully communicate about current medications and regimens so the patient doesn't experience adverse reactions or undo progress.


Sixty and Me recommends holding family meetings to ensure no individual is overwhelmed with care provisions. Take turns offering companionship and assistance. A group chat is a perfect way to keep everyone in the loop.


If your loved one is comfortable with visitors, reach out to old friends and neighbors who could simply provide company and friendship. Not every member of your support team needs to do caregiving. Look up familiar names from high school on an alumni database to see if anyone is around. Having a mini reunion could be a great change of pace for your loved one.


3. Assist With Home Modifications

If the ailment is degenerative and results in limited independence, use foresight and prepare the home to be a comfortable haven. Pay careful attention to accessibility, especially in areas that can become slick or dangerous such as the kitchen and bathroom. If your loved one eventually needs continual attention in an assisted living facility, memory care, or other round-the-clock aid, help them investigate which communities are the best for their budget and circumstances.


4. Find Programs for Financial Support


Wading through the insurmountable paperwork for medical bills and health insurance is exasperating. Yet, a little more effort in filling forms and searching for assistance from the government or nonprofit groups can yield financial aid and other forms of service. Help your loved one investigate and apply for additional help.


5. Adjust Their Work Environment for Stress-Free Functionality


If your loved one works remotely, make the home office comfortable and productive. Ergonomic furniture is a must. Help your loved one position the workstation comfortably and share appropriate stretches and exercises. Search for deals on a premium seat cushion if the perfect office chair is not in the budget. Check that the screen height is comfortable and find a sturdy mechanical keyboard for typing ease. A vertical mouse could be the solution for someone with hand and arm trouble.


Review the office software and hardware, and ensure it's up to date to eliminate annoying lags or security concerns. Remote desktop software allows you to work on the computer when you can't visit in person.


6. Start a Fun Exercise Routine


Physical therapy is vital to maintain health through a chronic sickness, so start programs you can do together. This can be something as simple as walking, preferably outside where you both can get a breath of fresh air. Taking a stroll around the block or at a nearby park can do wonders. If your loved one is physically able and you live near restaurants and shops, try walking together to grab a meal or coffee, or run a short errand.


Also, motion control video game consoles provide fitness activities that make you forget you're exercising. For example, dancing games let you enjoy the hits while improving coordination and balance. Online connectivity enables you to compete with friends and family around the world.


7. Seek Counseling


Moments may come where you and the other caregivers feel like you're at your breaking point. Professional assistance can restabilize you to continue your caregiving. Look into group therapies that allow you to benefit from the experiences of others and are often less expensive than one-on-one sessions.


9. Be Patient with Yourself and Your Situation


It can be incredibly difficult to see a loved one suffering, but being a caregiver can strain your patience and relationship. Do what you can to set boundaries and remind yourself why you are committing so much time and energy to this situation. Even when things aren’t spoken, your loved one appreciates your support as they figure out how to manage their chronic illness.


Are you looking for inspiring stories of faith during illness? Then visit Profiles in Catholicism.

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