In Home Health Care

How to care for a sick friend or family member at home

When faced with caring for a family member or close friend with a fatal or long-term illness, there are many factors you should keep in mind. While you are going to be going through many changes - in your personal life, your home and sometimes your professional life - you need to remember you are not alone. Not only are there thousands of people who share your experience, but the person you are caring for is going through something similar, with more radical changes in their life.

The very first thing to remember is to take some time for yourself. Even if it's only a half hour spent reading a book, or a couple of hours soaking in a hot tub washing away some stress, you need that time. No matter how much you may love someone, and how much you truly want to take care of them, you're a person too. Anyone will suffer burnout after a sufficient amount of time. Keeping it in doesn't help, and can lead to further problems such as depression. When you have hit that point of burning out, you'll be doing absolutely no good for yourself, your family, or the person you were trying to take care of. Remember, even a couple of minutes can stave off a massive burn-out.

Don't be afraid to ask for help from others. Everyone needs help at some point, and accepting assistance can be better than you realize. By having someone else come by and spend a few minutes talking or reading a book to your sick friend, it gives you the time to take a breather or attend some other business. But more importantly, it also helps the person who is ill by alleviating some of the overwhelming feelings of isolation they tend to experience. Being in this position can be frustrating, especially for someone who has always been the caretaker, or the strong one in the family. So don't be shy to accept any help that is offered. Try to remember that the help won't aid just you alone - it aids your loved one, also.

Prioritize! This cannot be emphasized enough. Perhaps you have a club or group you've belonged to for years. Maybe it's civically-minded and does great things for helping sick or injured children. This is certainly a very important thing and a great way to spend your spare time, but when a loved one is ill in your home (especially if it's a fatal disease), you should focus your time on them. While it's rather clichéd, you have to remember that time does not wait. Which will be more important to you in five years? The time you spent with your loved one or your children, or various items from clubs or groups you belong to? Make your family the most important priority, and if you have to adjust your career, then so be it.

Keeping a schedule is equally important. While you need to allow for a bit of flexibility, if you run things by a schedule, you can create more time to spend with your family. You must also remember that while your sick loved one is certainly important, if you have young children in the home they deserve at least equal attention. You can ask the children to help in different ways, to aid them emotionally, and help them feel included. Though it may seem odd, and you're wondering how a toddler can be of any help, you'll find that they are quite efficient at doing little things, like carrying a book or a cup to someone. That simple gesture alone lets them know they are not being ignored or forgotten, and that they are valued enough to be asked to help. Always remember that while one person is very ill, there can be several others who are suffering the effects of a long-term illness.

Finally, resources. Whether you need information on special diets or methods for reducing stress, there are plenty of resources available. If you look in your own town or telephone directory, you can easily yield results for things like cancer support groups, hospices, councils for seniors and more. However, there are only so many resources you can locate with that method. With the Internet, you have virtually unlimited resources available. No matter what you need, you can go to any of the large search engines, type in what you want, and instantly find thousands of related websites. Take a minute and see for yourself!

By Geneva Robinson