How to Support Loved Ones With Chronic Illness

People with chronic health conditions fare better long-term if they have a solid social support network. However, knowing how to support someone with a long-term illness can be difficult. Here’s some advice on effectively supporting a loved one with a chronic health condition.

Show Compassion and Empathy

The more knowledge you have of your loved one’s chronic illness, the better you can empathize. With an online nursing degree, you can more fully understand their condition and be in a better place to help them. Ensure the online school you’re considering is accredited and offers competitive tuition rates before enrolling. You can study while still working full-time or taking care of family obligations.

Don’t confuse compassion with advice. Avoid giving unsolicited advice, such as telling a loved one they should lose weight, eat better, or do more exercise, even if you mean well. Instead, let them know you’re there for them, offer to help with chores around the house, and acknowledge their hard work in pushing through the tough times.

Understand Their Needs and Adjustments

When you’re out with a loved one with a chronic health condition, whether dining out or visiting friends, understand they may need adjustments. It’s essential you know how to accommodate them.

They may need to take regular breaks along the way to rest if you’re walking to your destination. You may have to leave the restaurant or your friend’s home early if your loved one feels unwell. Don’t make a big deal of it, and assure them that leaving early is fine.

Be By Their Side at Doctor Appointments

Offer to accompany your loved one to any doctor appointments.  You can be a valuable asset if they’re okay with it. You can take notes, pick up on what the doctor has said that your loved one may have missed, and ask any questions your loved one may not have thought to ask. Keep in mind that the appointment isn’t about you. You’re there to offer support, so don’t try to push your own agenda.

Cook Healthy Meals

With chronic illnesses, such as heart and kidney disease, many people feel tired and don’t always have the energy to spend time in the kitchen cooking healthy meals. People with Alzheimer’s may forget to eat, and when combined with diabetes, it may prove hazardous for them to cook for themselves.

When preparing meals for a loved one with a chronic health condition, there are certain things to bear in mind. For instance, when cooking for someone with diabetes:

  • Choose foods that won’t increase blood sugar levels
  • Select foods high in fiber
  • Serve meals three times daily at regular intervals

For heart disease, focus on:

  • Reducing sodium intake
  • Serving high-fiber foods, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Substituting red meats with lean meats and fish

Maintaining a healthy weight can be achieved through a healthy diet and portion control, crucial for managing many chronic health conditions.

Help Them Cope

Chronic illness isn’t easy to deal with. Having someone by your side can make a world of difference. Your compassion, understanding, assistance, and support at medical appointments can help your loved one feel less alone and more able to cope.

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