Learning that someone dear to your heart has a chronic condition can be hard to accept. But you must because it’s how you can help them. Don’t be afraid to work together through the hard times because that’s what will motivate them to get through it.
If you’re not sure what role you can play in their recovery, here are eight ways you can help them through this challenging time in their lives:
1. Remember that they’re always going to need your support
It’s impossible to understand what it’s like to have a chronic illness unless you’ve been affected by one yourself. However, what you can do is to understand that your loved one needs your help in the form of support and encouragement. So do that.
2. Make sure that they know that there’s hope
There’s always someone who has struggled and found a way to live a happy, healthy life despite their diagnosis. For example, people who live with HIV/AIDS can often live well into their 60s and 70s. There’s always hope, so be sure to remind your loved one of this.
3. Find out as much as possible about their illness
The more you know about their illness, the more you can do to help them cope with it. For instance, your loved one suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and struggles with anxiety due to their disorder.
If you can find out information about how certain foods worsen anxiety for those who suffer from this condition, you can take this opportunity to cook delicious, healthy food for your loved ones. This way, they’ll know that you’re not just helping them cope with their illness but also trying to motivate them through the work it takes.
4. Take them to their medical appointments
One of the best ways to show your support is to take part in your loved one’s recovery process. So if they have an endoscopy scan to diagnose what their gastrointestinal problem is, for example, you can show up and hold their hand while they’re going through it.
Although you can’t understand what it feels like to be on the end of an endoscope, you can make sure that they know that you care enough about them to be there through the end. Your mere presence will provide them comfort and strength.
5. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to go out
If your loved one is diagnosed with a chronic illness, they might not want to go out as much. They might even cancel on you at the last minute. But you have to understand that they might not want to go out because their illness has them feeling too tired or sick.
Or if it’s an anxiety disorder, they’re afraid of being judged by people who don’t know what it’s like to live with their condition. So, next time this happens, remind them that you understand and you’ll be there to support them.
6. Prepare balanced meals for them
Preparing a balanced meal for somebody is one of the most loving things you can do. But if your loved one has a chronic illness, this becomes extra special because it shows that you’re aware of their need to eat healthy food.
In other words, if they have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), don’t cook them steak because the very act of eating it can cause their acid reflux to flare up. Instead, cook them some chicken and veggies so that they can eat something easy on their stomach.
7. Be patient with their mood swings
It can be difficult to tell if your loved one is having a bad day because their illness is exhausting them or if they’ve had a series of bad days and that’s just how they feel at this moment in time. So try not to take it personally when your loved one snaps at you unexpectedly because of their mood swings.
Instead, understand that they’re doing the best they can to get through the day and take care of their health, despite how demotivating it might be. They don’t mean to take out their anger on you; it’s just that nobody understands what they’re going through except for people who live with chronic conditions themselves.
8. Let them know how much you love them
Above all else, your loved one needs to know how much you love them and that you’ll be there for them every step of the way. They need to feel your love constantly because it helps them push forward through their illness.
So the next time you speak with them, remind them that they’re not alone in this and show how much you care about them by telling them what a great person they are. Remind them that they are more than their illness; they’re a great person with so much to offer the world.
Knowing that someone you love has a chronic illness can make you feel helpless. But even though this might be a difficult time for you, you must understand that it’s even harder for them. So try to set your feelings aside for the meantime and do whatever you can to help them cope with their chronic condition.