Like other chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes and Hypertension, management of arthritis and autoimmune diseases like Lupus or Sjorgren’s Syndrome may be difficult for the affected individuals and their loved ones. These diseases can also affect each person in different ways.
It is always important to remember that there is no cure for most of these diseases but there are treatments to help individuals live a fulfilled life. Individuals may get frustrated with trying to find the right medical treatment to treat their conditions. Caring for someone living with an autoimmune disease or arthritis may be difficult and challenging at times but there is comfort knowing that you can be a source of strength comfort for another person.
Here are some things to consider for your friend or loved one living with Arthritis and Autoimmune diseases.
1) Be patient.
Since someone living with Lupus or arthritis may experience prolonged joint stiffness, pain and swelling on a daily basis, try and understand that even the most basic daily tasks like brushing one’s teeth, putting on socks or a shirt may be a long and painful process. Even being social and going to the movies, restaurant or dinner parties may be cumbersome.
2) Proximity to activities is key!
Try and pick venues close to the individual’s home or place of business. It might be painful to walk, sit in a cab or car for long periods because of back and joint stiffness. It is best if the individual commutes as little as possible. Traveling anywhere may not be as easy as one may think.
3) More space is always better!
In theaters or tight spaces, consider having that person sit near an aisle seat or upgrade to a plane seat with more leg room. The chronic stiffness may pose restrictions on where that person can sit and for how long.
4) Look out for Depression!
Be mindful that with many chronic conditions associated with pain, depression may be a consequence of the disability. Remember to check in and ask your friend or loved one about their mood. Carefully observe whether he or she is losing interest in socializing or engaging in activities that used to bring joy or happiness to that individual.
TIPS TO THINK ABOUT
5) Find support!
Possibly suggest that your loved one or friend participate in a support group with other people living with the disease either on line or in person. Often it is difficult for someone not living with this type of arthritis to fully empathize or understand what that person is going through on a daily basis. Sometimes, even a medical professional, such as a therapist may be helpful with suggesting coping mechanisms for the individual and his or her loved ones.
6) Heat and Touch may be allies!
A warm bath/shower or therapeutic massage may ease the joint symptoms. Maybe plan a spa day as a surprise! Always have the individual speak with the physician first to ensure that this a good course of action and that there are no contraindications.
7) Exercise may be painful.
Professional do advocate that it is good to continue light exercise and keep moving. It may take some time for therapy to take effect before someone may feel like they can adequately participate in an exercise regimen.
8) Be supportive and loving.
Sometimes offering too much unsolicited feedback or advice may not be the best thing to do since no one can really walk in another man or woman’s shoes. You have to recognize when to take a step back and allow some space and independence.
MORE TIPS TO THINK ABOUT
9) Encourage better sleep behaviors.
The struggle of managing these diseases can lead to decrease sleep, energy, and fatigue. Help your loved one set better sleep regimens and relaxation periods throughout the day. Maybe plan a spa day or a trip to a yoga studio!
10) Educate yourself about the disease.
Knowledge is power! Learn about the different symptoms and complications about the specific type of autoimmune condition which may help you recognize when your loved one may experience a flare so you may be better prepared to help. You may also obtain more information on your loved one’s medications.
Remember to always keep the lines of communication open between you and the individual coping with the chronic condition. Keeping an open dialogue will help all parties understand each other better.
Disclaimer: This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research. This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products. You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history. Thank you for reading!