How to Support Patients with Chronic Diseases

dis-2Managing a chronic illness can be fraught with frustrations and challenges for everyone involved. It puts a considerable strain on the patient, their families, and society as a whole. Patients suffering from it find it difficult to manage symptoms effectively. They also face serious medical crises and isolation from the public.

The World Health Organization pronounced it as the leading cause of mortality in the world. It accounted for about 60% of deaths recorded worldwide. Examples include diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, and Celiac disease, among others.

Patients experience a disruption in their day-to-day life. It also puts a massive strain on their finances. And in most cases, it leads to job loss as they lose the ability to keep up with their task.

In this article, we provide tips and information that would be useful in caring for a patient with the disease.

Understand the Illness: Knowledge they say is power. Educate yourself about the disease, its behavioral pattern, and symptoms. Take advantage of the resources available online to learn about it. Taking this action would help you make better decisions that will be beneficial to them. Being well-informed makes you less anxious about carrying out your duties. And it could also increase your efficiency.

Be Empathetic: Show that you care about the pains they feel even if you cannot understand it. Acknowledge their struggles and sympathize with them. Inquire about how they are feeling and listen to them. Through your actions, convey empathy by helping out as much as possible. Do not dismiss any of their concerns no matter how trivial it seems to be. Let them know you are willing to listen to whatever issue they have in mind.

Offer Help: Sometimes your patient could be overwhelmed with their daily routines. Most of them will not come out of the blues to ask you for help. It could be either as a result of shyness or because they don’t want to saddle anyone with their load. Do not wait for them to make a request for aid, offer it. Look for ways to help alleviate their burdens. Take little actions to relieve them of their chores. Some of these tasks could include grocery shopping, running errands, housekeeping, etc. Whatever it is, just help.

Ask for Support: It could sometimes be tempting to ignore everything and concentrate only on the task at hand. Taking on the role of a caregiver could prove to be too much of a load to bear. You do not have to go through it alone, though. It won’t make you less of a human if you seek help from others. Ask your family, siblings or friends to pitch in and assist you with some task. These sets of people could come together to form a team of support for the patient. When you feel burnt-out, this group could step in and take over your chores. You could all join to uplift the spirit of the patient. You will find out that others are quite willing to lend a helping hand, so don’t be afraid to ask. Try not to isolate yourself from everyone. If possible, remain involved in the things and activities you enjoy. Before asking for assistance, understand your patient’s specific needs. And outline them in clear terms to your temporary replacement. This action would help to prevent any dangerous or costly mistake.

Have the Willingness to Listen: Listening is said to be a lost art. Most people tend to sleep on how therapeutic it can be. You will discover that there are times when your patient will need to vent about their condition. Be willing to drop everything, take away all forms of distractions and listen. Now is not the time to tell them they look well or dismiss their fears. All you need to do in such cases is simply to listen. Give them a chance to let their feelings and emotions out. Experts have noted that patients tend to feel better when they have someone willing to pay attention to them. Try by all means to avoid imposing your opinions on them. And do not dole out any unsolicited advice. Doing this helps them know that their feelings as individuals count.

Connect with Others: There are thousands of groups, both online and offline, where you can get support. Connect with people who are also going through the same thing and share your experiences with each other. Get to know the doctors and medical staff that are involved in the treatment of your patient. Ask them questions on any gray areas you might have. Take advantage of the support some communities and states provide. Do not shut yourself out from the world. The insights and information you will glean will be of tremendous use to you. You get to keep up with new medical inventions. And at the same time, you are better equipped to navigate safely through the experience.

Care for Yourself: In the chaotic scene of offering support, it is easy to forget about yourself completely. This most often than not will not bode well for the patient and yourself. Focusing solely on the patient without a thought for your well-being could lead to burn-out. In some cases, you might find yourself harboring feelings of resentment towards the patient. So in the midst of your task, try to carve out moments for yourself. Get involved in activities that make you happy. Go to places you have always had an interest in visiting. It could be a day trip to the beach, mall, zoo, museum or even a concert. If you happen to be an indoor person, you could shut yourself in with a good book. Or just stay inside doing nothing. It is of paramount importance that you take a break when the situation is becoming too difficult to handle. Whatever positive feelings you are experiencing can easily transfer to your patient. For instance, if you are calm and relaxed, your patient would also feel the same way.

Conclusion

Having someone dependent on you can be a difficult pill to slow. It is imperative that you try as much as you can to provide your patients with the best of care. Encourage them to motivate and help themselves. Using these methods would assist them to get the most of life while retaining their independence

Photo Credit: Euobserver