Caring for an unwell loved one is a selfless, compassionate task and helps maintain their quality of life during difficult times. However, caring for a loved one during a time of illness and recovery can be challenging. Sometimes, we need to know how to care for them. We've rounded up our 5 favourite tips for caring for a loved one during illness, or recovering from surgery, to help along the way.
1. Understand your loved one’s illness
If you can, try to ask their doctor about the illness and the prognosis so you can better expect their needs. Learning about the illness or needs in their recovery can help you feel more in control over the situation. Take the time with your loved one to create realistic, achievable goals. As the support, this can help you feel more capable in your caretaking abilities. Understanding their illness or needs means you can help fill out and collect any prescriptions, and grocery shop for other food and personal care items they may need.
2. Nourish the relationship
As you may spend a lot of time with your loved one, you can focus on enjoying the unexpected quality time together. You could plan activities together, swap stories, and understand one another on a deeper level. This can help them feel less alone. It can create an opportunity to connect with one another and cherish your time together. During such a bleak time, it can be a splash of colour in their day.
3. Send an Angel Delivery
In this current climate, you may not be close to your loved ones during hard times. You could send them an Angel Delivery care package or food hamper to bring a smile to their face. Not only will the Angel Delivery brim with goodies, but the gesture will also remind them you care, and that you love them. Care packages and food hampers from Angel Delivery include meals, and personal care items for the recipient, removing the need to cook or shop themselves, and may also help alleviate stress. Some hampers include treats, and a soothing therapy wheat bag to ease discomfort.
4. Care for yourself
Caregiver fatigue is a real and common phenomenon. Take regular breaks, including moments away from the loved one, to refresh yourself. Find a moment of self-expression, whether that be reading, writing, exercise, gardening, or baking. Moments for ourselves can provide an environment to release complex emotions and support our own needs. Don’t be afraid to accept help from other family members or friends and to set boundaries. It’s okay to ask for specific help, such as meals, doing school drop-offs, or picking up prescriptions.
Pausing and decompressing will prevent burnout and over-stretching yourself. Maintaining your own wellbeing is vital to being able to provide empathetic, consistent care. You cannot always be a pillar of strength. You cannot fill from an empty bucket.
5. Support building their confidence
Fear and a lack of confidence are common among those who are unwell. As the support person, we can encourage our loved one to gain their confidence. Acknowledge their progress. Regularly encourage them to keep moving forward. Practice kindness and compassion. It is important your loved one feels seen, listened to, and respected. If your loved one believes in themselves, and has an optimistic outlook on their prognosis, can improve their mental well-being, and create a more positive environment for healing.
Angel Delivery. (2022). Get Well Care Package. Retrieved from: https://www.angeldelivery.co.nz/products/get-well-care-package-1
Author unknown. (Year unknown). Caring for a Loved One. Retrieved from: https://palliativedoctors.org/about
Das, A. (2019). Caring for a loved one is hard work — 6 ways you can fight burnout. Retrieved from: https://ideas.ted.com/caring-for-a-loved-one-is-hard-work-6-ways-you-can-fight-burnout/
Hogan, L. (2021). How to Support Someone Who is Ill. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/how-to-support-someone-who-is-ill
Schumann, J. H., Gordan, M., & Keane, M. (2019). How To Be A Better Caregiver When A Loved One Gets Sick. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/11/740715027/how-to-be-a-better-caregiver-when-a-loved-one-gets-sick