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.
These are all such helpful suggestions Jenny! My parents are in their 80s now and it really provides a good overview of ways to keep their living space accessible and safe. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, I’m glad this helped 🙂
This is such a great post. It somehow comes naturally to me when it comes fir caring for suck family members. I just like taking care if the people I love.
Antonia | sweetpassions.net
Thats amazing, the world always needs people like you xx
Thank you for that all important final reminder! Looking after a sick family member is an amazing thing to do, but it is also important to make sure we are still living and looking out for ourselves too. 🙂
This is really good and I have one thing to add that really helped me: Have an attitude of gratitude. Think of the opportunity to serve as the privilege and the honor it is, and thank the person for whom you are caring for trusting you to do it.
Yes absolutely I love that point!
Such great tips Jenny! My father had terminal cancer (he passed away in 2020) and I would help my mother (she was the primary caretaker) get groceries, clean, and I would even try to help my father if she wasn’t around. I definitely could have used more self care back then as well.
Sounds like you did everything you could and did an amazing job. I’m sorry for your loss xx
Loved reading this and getting an insight. Back in May we lost my Great-Uncle and he had dementia. Unfortunately he actually died of pneumonia but when I saw my Great-Auntie she explained the pressures of caring for him, especially during covid aswell as having operations herself and it was so heartbreaking and inspiring. The way she said she would do it all over again in a heartbeat. She said it was hard to make time for herself but the last recent months she knew she had to, even if it was going for a coffee break, a walk in the park/promenade or popping to the shops. x
Your great aunt sounds like an amazing woman 🙂
Staying organized and knowing your limits are very insightful tips for this topic. One of our friends has a sick family member, so this post really helps. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you 🙂
These are great pieces of advice. It is so easy to lose yourself in your attempts to help a loved one that your own mental health goes out the window.
I fell ill in 2013 and my whole families life changed forever. having someone fall ill is incredibly hard to deal with but these tips are absolutely perfect for those who may have to encounter it at some stage in their life. Making life at home accessible is so important, my whole house had to be adapted but it made mine and my families life so much easier. Also, asking for additional support is a must, no one should have to deal with illness alone as it’ll end up taking its toll on your mental health for sure. My advice would always be to take each day as it comes – the good and the bad. This is an amazing blogpost lovely, thank you for sharing it with us! Xo
Elle – ellegracedeveson.com
That’s very good advice and applies to most situations, physical or mental illness. I’m glad you and your family adapted 🙂 xxx
Very good tips here!!! When I was taking care of my mother before she passed away, I had to remind myself to take time out and rest. You can become so busy caring for someone else, that you neglect your own health. It is a very important thing to remember. You absolutely must make time for yourself so that you are able to be a good caregiver!
Absolutely and totally agree.