Helping a loved one who is living with a chronic health condition is important not just for their physical safety, but also for their mental health. Chronic illnesses can take a hefty toll on a person’s ability to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression and can contribute to those feelings as well. The good news is, there are some simple ways you can positively affect your loved one’s life and help them stay safe and healthy, from helping with household chores to lending support at doctor’s appointments. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Learn how to help
For many who are living with a chronic illness, there are lots of unanswered questions about the symptoms they suffer from and how to relieve them, or about what the future will bring where their wellbeing is concerned. Depending on the severity of the illness, they may be unable to do research on their own, but you can look for online resources to learn all you can about what they’re going through. You might even decide to take it one step further and go into the medical field, where you can study the condition’s causes and treatments in-depth. You can earn a nursing degree from an accredited institution in the comfort of your own home; just make sure they offer competitive tuition rates and that the online courses you choose are available in your state.
Make home safer
As you learn more about your loved one’s condition, you may find that there are changes that should be made around the house to ensure that it’s a safe and comfortable space. While there are some major modifications that can be done to a home, such as installing an elevator or widening doorways–there are also some simple things you can do to change things up. Adding lighting for safer mobility, installing grab bars, a shower seat, and non-slip mats in the bathroom, and installing a ramp are just a few DIY mods that can be made on a budget that make a big difference.
Keep them connected
With the house taken care of, you’ll have peace of mind that your loved one is safe and comfortable at all times, but it’s also important to take their mental health into consideration. Many individuals who are living with a chronic condition feel isolated from their friends and family due to an inability to get out and participate in activities, so finding ways to be social is crucial. If they have access to a computer or smartphone, set them up with a video chat app and a social media account so they can keep in touch with the people they care about. Look for online support groups for your loved one’s specific condition, as they often share resources that can be helpful.
Help them stay active
Mental and physical health go hand in hand, so for those who are too ill to exercise regularly, it’s important to find ways to stay sharp and prevent anxiety or depression. Help your loved one look for activities and hobbies they enjoy that won’t interfere with their condition, such as crocheting, painting, or light gardening. You might even consider joining them, as having someone to participate in hobbies with makes them that much more enjoyable.
Helping someone you care about as they cope with chronic illness can take a toll on your own mental health, so remember to be kind to yourself during the process and practice self-care. Look for resources that will be helpful to both of you in the coming months, such as non-profits.
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