Chronic illness is defined as a health condition that afflicts an individual for a year or more, requiring different kinds of treatment or procedures to regulate the debilitating effects of the disease on the individual’s daily activities. Some will regularly meet with their doctors for checkups, while others will employ mental or neurological disorders treatment to manage their worst conditions.
As difficult as it can be to live with these kinds of diseases, the people living with the sufferer can add to the problem, even when they are only trying to help out with the best intentions. Especially when you are living with a family member suffering from this kind of disease, you may feel conflicted about helping them in some situations or leaving them be.
The following tips should help you understand their needs more and give you some insight into what you can (and shouldn’t) do for them.
Do your research
Apart from the diagnosis and prescriptions of the medical professional, dealing with the illness should include doing your own research to see what can help your situation. This research is not simply browsing the web to look for recommendations that worked for others.
This should be more on trying to look at the root of the problem, making connections with other people, finding other professionals to address the problem, and understanding the disease along with its causes and effects on your own. All that information can be readily found online, so you can make use of that power to help the sufferer.
Have the conversation
Even after having done your research, you should continue communicating with the patient to know their specific needs. Instead of pushing onto them what you’ve found online, it is better to ask them about how you can help, even with just the little things that can make their situation slightly easier.
This is where you have to listen and take notes. Let them speak, open your ears, and apply what you’ve learned to your everyday routine. Whenever you are not sure about how to help, ask, and they will let you know what to do. But do not ask too many questions as this can be annoying in addition to their pain. Understand that they are going through something and do whatever you can to assist them.
Your support can go a long way as they go through the pains and the treatments for their illness. Supporting them doesn’t just mean helping them physically in their tasks, but rather providing emotional backup whenever they feel hopeless about their condition. This entails being there with them through thick and thin whenever you are capable. Your presence in itself can be reassuring enough to give them the courage to continue fighting to get their life back.
Acknowledge their pain
Misunderstanding usually arises from not-so-well-thought-out comments. Some people assume that chronic illnesses are nothing special to worry about, but they are. And those who experience it are in a different level of pain than you can ever imagine. Toxic positivity is something to avoid, like saying “be positive” or “it’s all in your head,” which can aggravate sufferers because you’ll never truly know how it feels to be in their shoes.
Give them time and space
As they are going through something that you cannot fathom fully, it is important to give them time and space for themselves. Sometimes, they need you to be there with them, but at other times, they need to rest without anyone bothering them. Do not expect them to always be there to answer whenever you call or text them. Instead, do what you think is right while waiting for them to ask for your help. Like everyone else, they have to work through their own problems and reach out if they feel like it.
Of course, chronic illnesses vary from person to person. Some are invisible, while some are painfully obvious to the people around them. So it is important to understand that the case can change when you meet another person with the illness. Taking the mentioned steps by heart should be the best way for you to acknowledge their situation, mainly focusing on the communication part to allow for an exchange of what you can do for each other.
Respect should be the most important factor in your relationship with them as this will show how much you care for them and their condition. Remember to never give up as you go with them on their journey. Your support and companionship are the most valuable things that you can give, no matter how complicated the process is for everyone.