ad in collaboration with Handicare Homelifts // As we get older, we have to accept that fact that it’s highly likely we’re going to have loved ones that get sick and may require our care. The older we live, the more chance we have of falling sick – either temporarily or sadly, terminally – and it’s something we just have to learn to deal with.
Perhaps “deal with” is the wrong term to use here. Watching a loved one when they’re sick is always difficult, it never gets easier and you don’t just “deal with it” like you deal with a bit of traffic on your way to work each morning.
But you DO have to learn to live with it. And learning to live with it might also mean learning how to adapt your situation and your routine, so you can care for someone more adequately.
When a family member (or even a close friend) is sick, it doesn’t just affect them.
They may be at the top of the priority hierarchy triangle but they’re certainly not the only ones in the triangle and when one person gets sick, it has an impact on many other people.
When my granddad was ill in 2019, it definitely affected those around him both physically and mentally. We sadly have someone else in my (sort of) family who is terminally ill at the moment and even from afar I can see the impact that is having on others.
So today, although arguably not the happiest of topics, it’s still an important one to build a dialogue around. I’ve you’ve read any of my bookish blog posts, you’ll see I ALWAYS recommend the book We All Know How This Ends.
This book is profound in challenging your view and perception of death, dying and end of life care, something I think everyone needs to read in their lives.
So let’s look at some simple ways you can help care for a sick family member:
Do your own research
You might be familiar with the condition they have but don’t take everything everyone else says at word value. It’s always worth doing your own research into the condition or illness that they have. You know how you best retain information, so learning about it in a way that suits you is beneficial.
Make the house as accessible as possible
Of course this isn’t always something you can do personally but you can seek help from others to help make their home more accessible and easier for them to navigate and live in. You might want to look at some home lifts for sale if their have stairs, ramps for the front door or railings for the bathroom.
If you’re caring for – or helping to care for – another person then it’s so important to stay organized for the sake of the person you’re caring for AND yourself. I always say that being organized NOW saves you stress in the long run. Organization when caring for a sick person might mean creating check-lists or spreadsheets or buying pill boxes or organization systems for medication or equipment.
Know your limits
It really doesn’t matter how much you love the person you’re caring for, when you’ve reached your limit, you’ve reached your limit. It’s so important not to feel guilty for reaching that limit or limiting yourself on the things you’re able to do for them. Which brings me nicely onto my next point…
Reach out for additional help if needed
If you do feel like you’ve reached certain limits and there comes a time where you don’t feel like you can provide a good quality of care in certain aspects of their life and illness, then this is where you need to reach out for additional help. This might be the help of other family members, a carer, a doula or something else entirely.
Take care of yourself as well
And finally, probably the point that most people don’t take seriously enough when they’re faced with caring for a sick family member and that’s taking care of YOU. You can’t give your best to someone you love who is in a vulnerable position if you’re not taking care of your own mental health and practicing self care.
The self care you practice during this time might look different to usual. You might have to look for 10 minute self care ideas instead of long lazy weekends at a spa but all self care is beneficial.
Caring for a sick family member is never going to be easy but there definitely are some things you can do to make it a little easier, for both yourself and for them.