It’s not easy seeing your parent suffer through a long-term chronic illness. It is even harder for them to go through it. As you begin your caregiving journey, remember these tips.
Join in on their lifestyle changes
Your loved one’s life is going to change. Be there to help. Participate where you can, so they don’t feel like they’re going through this alone.
• Offer to take them to their doctor appointments. Your loved one will need more doctor’s visits. Many people with chronic illnesses lose motivation to go to their appointments after being diagnosed. Go with your parent for support.
• Adopt their new diet. Your parent may be required to become strict about their diet. If feasible, join in and adapt your diet too. You’ll have more empathy for their situation and they will feel less alone at the dinner table. Plus, you can swap recipes, tips and tricks.
Provide emotional support
It’s normal for your parent to go through emotional turmoil after being diagnosed. As their caregiver, you are likely to be their emotional rock in addition to your other caregiving duties.
• Realize their emotions are not about you. Having a chronic illness is stressful and distressing. When your parent is angry or snaps at you, remember that they’re frustrated with their situation, not with you. Feel free to take a step back and take some deep breaths to calm yourself before helping your parent.
• Always listen to what they have to say. Your loved ones may wish to vent and release all of their pent-up emotions. It may be difficult, but don’t shy away from those moments. Be there for them. Listen. Respond with comfort and care.
Seek help from others
You may wish you could be there for your loved one 100 percent of the time, but you need to realize that you can’t. You need to save some time to take care of yourself.
• Make caring a family effort. Caring for your loved one alone is tiring and stressful. Encourage your family to pitch in. Keep in mind that helping your loved one is not always about chores and busy work. Simply spending quality time with your parent is a way of helping.
• Seek support from other caregivers. You will be a better caregiver if you are also caring for yourself. Find a support group of caregivers that can give you advice, comfort and be there for you when you need to do some venting of your own.
Always be there
Caregiving can be a full-time job. It is difficult for everyone involved. But a chronic illness doesn’t take away your parent’s ability to live a full and happy life.
Your actions and emotional support will make all the difference as they begin to adjust to their new diagnosis. With you by their side, your parents will know they are not going through it alone.
Tracy Layden is a certified aging in place specialist born and raised in Silicon Valley. Visit alert-1.com.