What You’ll Learn
- Supporting chronic illness can seem overwhelming at first if you are not familiar with the caregiver duties and responsibilities
- The job of caregiving for a chronically ill person has nuances that need to be understood.
- In this article we discuss 10 ways to be a caregiver for those who are chronically ill
Over 40% of all Americans are living with at least one chronic illness. With this ever-growing number, chances are, you must have encountered someone in your social circle who is coping with chronic disease.
Learning of your family or friend’s illness can be a challenging experience. Are you feeling the urge to step into the role of a caregiver?
Before you jump in and decide to be their support system, there are a few essentials you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. It’s necessary to understand that this article is a generic list for supporting those with chronic illness. The caregiver job description can vary for different chronic illnesses.
We’ve put together a list of caregiver duties and responsibilities. Scroll down to learn more.
10 Ways To Be a Supportive Caregiver
1. Be a Good Listener
Chronic illness is a challenge for many, primarily because symptoms do not add up to an accurate diagnosis. Often there’s a delay in receiving a treatment plan that works. Even worse, misdiagnoses are an unfortunate reality for several mysterious chronic illnesses. Not surprisingly, frustration, overwhelm, and confusion can quickly become a norm for patients with a chronic condition.
To show support, it’s imperative to be a good listener, allowing them to feel seen, heard, and understood. Lean in and listen to understand without giving advice. Asking open-ended questions helps the person feel comfortable to share their experience.
2. Check In Often As A Caregiver
Chronic illness, particularly Lyme, can feel like a roller coaster. Dealing with inflammation, a body that feels foreign every day, and turbulent inner emotions can leave a patient with no inclination to socialize.
Therefore, regular check-ins such as sending a friendly text, calling weekly are great ways to provide support if you are a caregiver. Virtual hangouts work incredibly well when in-person meet-ups are not preferred. In the long run, your family or friend coping with a chronic illness will appreciate and value this gesture of yours.
3. Don’t Take Things Personally
Mood swings due to an out-of-whack limbic system are often part of dealing with chronic disease. This can play out as canceled calls, missed appointments, or a last-minute change of plans to previous commitments for the patient. The illness can control a person’s life until they learn the right mindset to cope with their condition. As a friend or caregiver, the unpredictability can be hard to handle, but it is essential to not take their actions personally.
Conversely, when providing support, it is equally important to take charge of your own mental and physical health. Remember to set boundaries when needed and prioritize your own wellbeing.
4. Learn About Their Illness
A chronically ill patient can open up readily once they sense that their caregiver, friend, or support team is equipped with the necessary research and information regarding their illness. To this end, showing a genuine interest in their condition pays off. Read up and research their disease but be careful not to bombard them with the latest research unless they express an interest in learning about your new findings.
5. Hold Space
Holding space is all about expressing empathy and not sympathy. Compassion points to your ability to step into the shoes of your chronically ill family or friend and understand their perspective.
Furthermore, trying to fix the problem for the person we care about is a natural urge for many. However, the secret to holding space is to avoid being a problem solver and merely be present without offering constant advice.
6. Refrain From Giving Unasked Advice
A chronically ill patient likely already has a treatment plan in place. If they have already figured out a way to go about their everyday life, it might not be the best strategy to impose opinions, especially if they feel you are not up to speed with your research on their illness.
7. Encourage Independence
Independence can mean the world to a chronically ill patient. Depending on a support system to get through the day can be a harsh reality, particularly for those afflicted with chronic illness at a young age. This can massively impact their self-identity.
While caregiving is much needed, supporting them to regain their independence financially, physically, and mentally can be a way to empower them to get back onto their own two feet.
8. Be An Accountability Partner
Healing is never linear, particularly in the case of Lyme disease. That said, at Innovative Medicine, we believe that healing begins with the consistent practice of everyday healthy habits. When broken down into simpler steps, healing boils down to everyday breathwork, gratitude journaling, and movement to promote muscle health, among a long list of other healing practices.
Consistent daily habits can indeed be an uphill task when coping with chronic disease. As a caregiver, you can nudge them ever so gently to keep up with their everyday health goals. Additionally, you can even chip in to help them keep track of their appointments and accompany them to their doctor visits (only if they allow it). By being an accountability partner in this way, you can make a tangible difference to their healing journey.
9. Distraction Can Be An Unsaid Gift
Doom and gloom can very quickly become the mental state of those coping with chronic illness. In addition to the burden of physical symptoms, chronic disease can be mentally and emotionally taxing. While a focus on mindset shift is a tremendous step toward healing, it’s crucial to participate in joyful activities that bring happiness. Distract them from their doom and gloom by bringing in an element of fun. Indulging in light-hearted activities can be immensely instrumental in helping the chronically ill move up the Hawkins emotional scale.
10. Encourage Them to Join Support Groups
Coping with chronic illness can lead to social isolation. Support groups where others with the same chronic disease come together are a great place where patients can open up about their everyday experiences. As a caregiver, help them research options and find a support group that feels right for them. Encouraging them to connect with others can go a long way in boosting their morale.
Final Thoughts For Being A Caregiver
The most valuable asset a person can lend to another is their time. Spending quality time can transform the day of a person coping with chronic illness. We hope reading this article has equipped you with necessary information about caregiver duties.
Innovative Medicine is a leader in advanced integrative medicine. Our world renowned clinic, NYCIM treats patients from all parts of the globe with chronic, said to be ‘intractable’ illnesses and sees extraordinary results. Careful curation of all medicines, products and supplements used at, and recommended by IM in an integral part of their processes. As they say “high quality products = high quality health.” – Click here to learn more about IM’s curation process and quality standards.
*Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.
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