When a family member is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can be a shock. You may feel scared, alone, and unsure of what to do. But you are not alone. There are millions of other families caring for a loved one with a chronic illness.
It’s a matter of realizing that you can depend on other people for help and support. Here are some tips from other caregivers on how to cope with the stress of this type of caregiving:
Tip #1 Seek Support from Friends and Family
One of the best things you can do when caring for a loved one with a chronic illness is seeking support from friends and family. Let them know what you’re going through and ask for help when you need it. They can offer emotional support and practical assistance, such as helping with childcare or errands.
For instance, if you often have to drive your loved one to their doctor’s appointments, see if a friend or family member can accompany them sometimes. Or, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask a friend to come over and talk with you.
You may also be able to ask for help when you need a break from your responsibilities. Taking a break can help you recharge and return to your caregiving duties with fresh energy. So, don’t hesitate to ask for help because knowing that you’re not alone can make a big difference.
Tip #2 Join a Support Group
There are many support groups available, both in-person and online. This can be a great way to meet other caregivers and get advice and support while also helping you feel less isolated. Simply having someone who understands what you’re going through can be a huge help.
If you don’t know where to begin looking for a support group, you could start at the community center. They might be able to point you in the right direction. You can also search online or ask your doctor for recommendations, particularly if you’re new to town and don’t know many people.
Tip #3 Find a Caregiver’s Forum or Online Community
There are many online communities and forums specifically for caregivers. These can be an excellent resource for finding information and support because you can ask questions, read articles, and connect with other caregivers worldwide.
For example, if you’re struggling to deal with your loved one’s changing moods, you can read about how other caregivers have coped with this issue. Or, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can post a question and get advice from other caregivers who have been in your shoes.
Suppose you’re wondering how exercise can help alleviate stress and improve the immune response to cancer cells. In that case, you can read articles and tips from other caregivers and get advice on where to find resources in your area.
Tip #4 Get Professional Help
If you don’t think you can handle being a caregiver on your own, it’s vital to get professional help. Many agencies and organizations can provide care for your loved one, either in their own home or facility.
For example, if your loved one needs round-the-clock care, you may want to consider hiring a home health aide. Or, if your loved one needs help with transportation, you can look into getting them non-emergency medical transportation.
There are different types of professional help available, so it’s essential to do your research and find the best option for your loved one’s needs. This way, you can provide your loved one with the best possible care while also giving yourself a much-needed break.
Tip #5 Use the Community Resources
It’s not a long shot to think that you can use the community resources for your loved one. After all, you’re a member of the community too. Check to see what your local community offers in terms of resources for chronic illness care.
For example, many communities have hospital-based support groups, which can be a great resource. These groups typically meet once a week and provide caregivers with information and support. Additionally, many community centers offer respite care, which can give you a much-needed break from caregiving.
Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness can be difficult, but you don’t have to go through it alone. So, be sure to reach out to friends and family, join a support group, or get professional help when you need it. And, don’t forget to take advantage of the community resources that are available to you. With some help, you can get through this tough time.