If a loved one or close family member is incredibly sick and unwell, then this can cause strain, stress and upset for your entire family. Caring for a loved one is a full-time job for you as a relative of a sick individual; on top of juggling your day-to-day home and work life. This means that you need to be prepared both mentally and physically to assist during a difficult and testing few weeks or even months. If you are caring for a sick loved one, you also need to take time to care for yourself to ensure that you are prepared and ready for anything.
If you are caring for a sick loved one, then you need to make sure that your relationship remains first and make this a priority. Remember that your relationship may change now that your loved one is sick, but you still need to take time to love one another, even if a few things have changed. You can display your love in different ways, through running your loved one a bath, buying them some flowers or even preparing them a nutritious and warming meal.
As a caregiver, it is up to you to live in the now and cherish the precious moments that you have together. Make sure that you still display the same levels of love and attention that you usually do, so that your loved one feels safe, secure and most importantly loved.
Look after Yourself
It might be the advice that you least expect to hear, but if you are looking after a sick loved one, then you need to make sure that you look after yourself also. It is vital that you take breaks between caring and helping your loved one, in particular, if you want to avoid feeling stressed and burnt out in a short time period.
Make sure that you go out and see your friends so that you can maintain a positive mindset and retain a sense of normality, even if you feel that things at home are out of your control. Book in for a pamper session, take time to see the latest movie, enjoy a walk in the park or even visit your local coffee shop, whatever you need, make sure that you do it to make you feel good. You should also make sure that you remain active, so try visiting the gym and running to make sure that you pump some mood-boosting endorphins around your body.
Techniques such as practicing mindfulness are ideal for managing negative thoughts and helping you to relax and control any conflicting emotions. It might be unusual advice, but you need to be selfish if you are caring for a sick loved one. This will prepare you for any difficult discussions that you need to have – in particular, if you both are scared of worse case scenarios. If you look after yourself, then you will become a better caregiver.
Be Honest and Open
When your loved one becomes a patient, it is inevitable that things are about to change, in particular, if they are suffering from a disease such as cancer or multiple sclerosis which both require round the clock attention and care. Sadly, sometimes, people lose their fights to these illnesses, so it is important that you remain an honest and open mindset during the difficult last few months, in particular, if palliative care is required.
Remember you are not a saint or a superhero, and sometimes modern medicine cannot solve all illnesses. If your loved one is losing their fight, you still need to remain strong and open to talking about how you both feel – and be prepared to talk about your plans or fears for once your loved one has passed on. You may not feel that you will be able to love anyone else at this moment in time, but your loved one will want you to enjoy your life and make the most of it.
Be honest and open about how you feel and which areas of the illness you find difficult to deal with. Do not be afraid to express your anger and upset, however, do not let these negative feelings get out of control – as this can be damaging for your own recovery time. If your loved one has to go into residential care, then make sure that you do your research to find the right hospice for you and your family.
Sites such as Medicare Part A provide a Hospice overview section, with useful information. Hospice staff are also trained to help the family deal with their loved ones’ final few months or even weeks, so be sure to take time to chat and discuss how you feel – if you need to talk to someone that is not directly related. Stay strong and take each and every day as it comes.
Final Words on Caring for a Sick Family Member
Caring for a sick family member or loved one can be a taxing and difficult time for anyone who is directly involved. So, make sure that you prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the times ahead, and cherish those precious moments with the one you love. Make sure that you put yourself first and try to maintain an element of normality – by socializing and getting out and about. Try to incorporate some time at the gym and exercise too.
If your loved one is seriously ill, then it may be time to have several serious conversations about the future, as upsetting as this can be. Make sure that you maintain an open and honest dialogue and be sure to express your fears and concerns with your loved one. If they need to enter a hospice to have palliative care, then you can also take time to talk through your worries with the medical staff on hand.
Be sure to put your relationship first and do not forget the reason why you fell in love in the first place. Make sure that you enjoy each and every precious moment together.