How to Help a Family Member with a Chronic Illness


Finding out that a loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic illness such as cancer, can have a significant impact on the whole family. This sort of news can be hard to take in, and it is perfectly natural to take a while to adjust to the shock of the diagnosis. While you may want to help them and make things better, it can be challenging to know how to do this, especially when you are still trying to make sense of their diagnosis.


A LISTENING EAR
Showing that you care without crowding your loved one can be a delicate balance to achieve, but it is essential to show them that you are there for them. While it is good to keep talking and to provide your loved one with a listening ear, keep in mind that there may be times when they don’t want to talk about their illness. You must accept that they may not wish to speak about their diagnosis all the time, as they are likely to need time to come to terms with their illness in their own way. Letting them know that you are here for them and ready to listen whenever they want to talk is the best way to acknowledge their illness, without pushing them to discuss it before they are ready.

If your family member seems to be struggling to understand their diagnosis or appears to need extra help with it, then it is a good idea for them to talk things through with a counselor that specializes in this area. A trained counselor will have the experience of helping people through similar situations, which could be a big help to your loved one.


HELP WITH TREATMENT
There are several cancer treatment options available, so you may find that your family member would like to discuss their options with you to help them to reach a decision on the best treatment. Helping them to weigh up their treatment options and doing a little research into facilities such as a proton therapy center will help to ease some of the pressure at this difficult time. Helping your loved one to be proactive and take control of their diagnosis and find the correct treatment can really help them to stay positive. They may also appreciate you coming along for consultations to help them ask the right questions and to provide some extra support.

NOURISHMENT
Providing practical support can show how much you care just as much as offering emotional support at difficult times. Sometimes, it is the smallest gestures that mean the most. Helping your family member to keep their strength up after their diagnosis is vital. One way you can ensure that they are getting all of the nourishment that they need is by preparing delicious, nutritious meals for them to eat. Keep in mind that they may not have a big appetite right now, but preparing easily digestible, healthy meals could help them to keep eating and building their strength.