If you have someone in your life, maybe a friend or family member, who suffers from arthritis, you will at some point, realize that it’s a condition that not only affects the sufferers themselves. Arthritis can also take significant emotional toll on you, as a caregiver.
Arthritis is hard. It’s a condition that puts the sufferer in chronic pain and limits their ability to live a normal life. But apart from the obvious physical symptoms, it can also prompt emotional symptoms, including depression and anger, which they can take out on the people closest to them.
But as a caregiver, you play a critical role in providing positive support for arthritis sufferers that you care about. So you can neglect the fact you have to take care of yourself as well.
Here are some to keep in mind:
1. Keep yourself informed
Learn about the condition. Start by talking to your friend or family member affected by the disease so you know where to start. Learn about what kind of arthritis they suffer from (take note that there are many), find out what their symptoms are, how they feel, what medication they take, possible side effects—anything and everything that they are willing to share and they find useful. This will help you get a clearer picture of what your loved one goes through.
From here, keep yourself constantly up to date on latest treatments, therapies and relevant information so you are better equipped to provide support.
2. Build a network of support
This isn’t something that you have to go through alone. A network of family and friends is essential. Talk to everyone that you believe can offer the kind of support your loved one needs as they go through this and enlist their help whenever you can. Chances are they are more than willing to do more more.
3. Express your thoughts
Don’t keep it in. Understandably, there will be good days and some bad days; and when it comes to the latter, you will need to vent. Don’t bottle everything up and wait until you reach your own emotional limit and blow up at an inopportune time. Write it down or talk to someone.
4. Try to keep a forward thinking mindset
Acknowledge that arthritis sufferers will have to grieve and mourn the fact that their condition will require a major lifestyle change. That’s a given—but it’s not the end of the world. Remind your loved one that while it’s challenging, it is possible to enjoy a normal life with the right medication, intervention and tools. Put their condition and your situation in perspective and focus on what you can do to move forward.
5. Take some time for yourself
What you’re doing is important, no doubt. But keep in mind that as a caregiver, you play a critical role for any arthritis sufferer’s life. This means it’s important for you to stay healthy and take time for yourself as well.
For us at Dr. Arthritis, support from family and friends is key, as are choosing the right tools and aids to ensure that arthritis sufferers maintain their quality of life.