When you have a loved one who is experiencing a difficult illness, it can be taxing and exhausting. As long as you are intentional about these five steps, you’ll be the most amazing support system your loved one could ever hope for.
1. Put self aside.
Remember that it’s not about you. It’s all about your loved one at this time. Try to remember that whenever you have to do tasks that are unpleasant or when you’re really tired. Your loved one is dealing with a lot and as humbling as it is, it’s your job to help make their experience a little easier.
2. Watch your face.
When you’re taking care of a loved one, you might have to do some tasks that may seem disgusting. Your loved one might lose control of their bowels or their bladder. There may be times when you have to clean their bedpan or wipe them after they’ve used the bathroom. Any adult who is used to doing these tasks for themselves will feel a sense of embarrassment. Alleviate the embarrassment by letting them know it’s okay and it’s a natural part of life. When things don’t smell too good, watch your facial expressions. Part of being supportive means expressing it through your face.
3. Always be kind.
As previously mentioned, it is a humbling experience to take care of someone when they’re sick. There will be times when your loved one might become impatient, angry, and irrational. In these times, do your best not to snap back at them.
4. Take care of yourself.
Being a caregiver is surprisingly exhausting. Not only is it physically exhausting, it can be emotional and mentally taxing as well. Try to see if there are times when you can switch off with supportive family and friends. Find ways to recharge yourself and get energy. Whether you get a massage, eat well, or get rest when you can, try your best to take care of yourself as well.
5. Be flexible.
You never know how much things will change during the time that your loved one is sick. During this time, try to avoid making important legal decisions. Don’t make a lot of commitments to other people as well. Let them know what’s going on and ask for their encouragement and support through it all. Additionally, it’s essential that you learn how to say no. You don’t want to be weighed down with a ton of responsibilities outside of what you already need to do. In order to stay sane, it’s best to make sure your time and schedule are both flexible.