Fresh Ideas for Assisting a Loved One With a Chronic Health Issue

Despite the advances in health care, recent reports relay that chronic disease is on the rise. Coping with continuing illness leads to exhaustion and frustration for sufferers and their loved ones who support them. Revitalize the care routine with these novel ideas for assisting a companion with a chronic illness.

Just Listen

Instead of trying to be a problem-solver, express empathy and concern. Dedicate at least five or 10 minutes to put down your phone or stop an activity and focus your attention on the conversation with meaningful eye contact. The connection makes your companion feel heard and appreciated. Stay engaged and empathetic by mirroring body language.

Attempt to listen more than you speak. When you chime in, ask follow-up questions or for clarification on things you don’t understand. Demonstrate you comprehend what you hear with statements and questions that respectfully reflect and summarize.

Lift the Burden of Paperwork

Health struggles usually bring a litany of insurance issues and medical histories to compile. Be an advocate for your ailing loved one by setting aside time to review bills and forms. Make a filing system to keep things in order and consider digitizing information for ease of access and safekeeping. Take steps early to assign a power of attorney for vital decisions when the individual is no longer able.

Assist Them in Finding Accessible Accommodations

Stay aware of unsafe conditions in the home and create appropriate modifications. Ramps and handrails prevent devastating falls. Ensure cooking utensils and toiletries are in accessible locations that don’t require uncomfortable bending, stretching, and reaching.

The time may arrive when the home is no longer adequate and requires more assistance. Discuss future living arrangements if a loved one has a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another condition that will limit independence. Research local skilled nursing care communities that provide memory and round-the-clock care to determine which location works within your finances and circumstances. Before touring a facility, carefully consider reviews, amenities, and costs.

When transferring to a new location, it’s a good idea to work with professional moving services to take some of the load off. Read online reviews to find the best local movers. Insist on a written estimate for services. True professionals assess both locations to give an accurate quote, so never rely on a price provided over the phone or online.

Let Your Loved Ones Support You

One of the most frustrating feelings for an adult who is limited by sickness is losing the ability to care for others. Yet, a life full of experiences and wisdom should be shared. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for advice. For example, a loved one who is a skilled mechanic or repair person can offer tips when you have car trouble or an appliance on the fritz.

Plan Social Dates

Don’t let the illness define your relationship. If the only time you spend together is related to health care, the bond can become strained because of few positive associations. Schedule time for activities like:

  • Playing cards
  • Taking a walk
  • Watching a movie
  • Going for a swim
  • Gardening

Be Forgiving

Sick folks don’t always graciously respond to bad days just like anyone else, so learn to let go of minor slights and practice forgiveness. Dignify your loved one by discussing if the problem is too big to overlook. If a conversation is too stressful, write a letter to share your feelings.

Ailments are a fact of life, but they don’t have to dominate it. Find ways to remain supportive and maintain strong relationships with loved ones with chronic health conditions. If you’re loved one can no longer live at home, research accessible accommodations like assisted living and nursing home care.

In-home support from Seniors Helping Seniors Chicago Metro can help your senior loved one live independently. Call 312-526-3666 to learn more.

Article contributed by Phillip Carr from

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