Caring for a chronically ill loved one or family member is a noble task. It is highly challenging, but it is also a great calling that is worth our time, energy, resources, and emotion. We are making life easier for someone we love who is struggling with their health. What can be nobler than that?
If you are a family caregiver to somebody who is chronically ill or in pain, here are some tips for effectively providing love, care, and support for them.
Validate, validate, validate
This cannot be overemphasized. One of the biggest things chronically ill people suffer is “pain-shaming,” especially from people who have never been where they are and have never experienced what they’re going through. Accept that some people might not believe your loved one when they say they are in pain, so you need to be one of the biggest sources of empathy around them.
If they are in chronic pain, then come up with a system that will help them describe the pain they’re feeling on that day instead of asking if they are experiencing any pain or discomfort. A pain scale of 1 to 10 might be helpful, and you can also ask them to describe which part of their body they feel the most discomfort.
Believe me when I say that people who experience chronic pain are not asking for much; they are only hoping for some form of acknowledgment that what they’re going through is tough. So validate them in this area if the rest of the world can’t understand and won’t do it.
Stay up-to-the-minute on their felt needs
People experiencing chronic pain might not have the wherewithal and energy to take care of their day-to-day needs like food, water, hygiene, and others. You might need to be more alert than them to ensure that their felt needs are adequately met every day. Consider assisting them with their monetary concerns as well—help them explore the option of filing for disability claims because they are probably qualified for them.
Our physical health is intrinsically linked with everything else in our being—our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Ensuring that your loved one’s physical and felt needs are met might go a long way in improving their entire being as well.
Go with their pace
When we are a caregiver or a supporter, we might want to rush the process of healing or recovery. The quicker we can get this over with, the sooner we can all move on with our lives, right? But unconditional love is patient—it understands that pain flares may come and go may be caused by multiple triggers like stress, weather, and others.
When this happens, you need to go according to your loved one’s pace. You need to prioritize their comfort and relief over your own. Help them monitor their pain levels so that they can better plan their day. Encourage them to stop whatever work they’re doing if flare-ups take place. Going with their pace is to observe how their body is doing and help them adjust according to the changes and flare-ups.
Use new tech tools and apps
Plenty of apps and software can help your loved one manage their pain better. Here are some examples:
- The app My Pain Diary allows users to log their pain scores each day, which can be handy for doctor’s appointments. It also tracks the weather, which is a helpful tool to see if the weather contributes to your loved one’s pain level.
- Medisafe focuses on your loved one’s medication and helps them track it. It allows users to input the medicine they take and the number of times they take it daily. It also has features that remind users to take their meds at a pre-set time.
Leaning hard on these tools can make your job easier for you as a caregiver, and it might make things more comfortable for your loved one, too, especially if they have a hard time writing.
Take care of yourself, too
It’s easy to fall into the trap of losing ourselves when we have the privilege and responsibility of caring for a sick loved one. Still, the health of your family member or friend also hinges on your ability to be there for them. Make sure you know your boundaries by asking for help from professionals and other members of your family. Also, remember to give yourself time to breathe from time to time. You deserve it, and so does your loved one.