It’s never easy when a loved one (especially a spouse) is diagnosed with a critical illness. Here are some strategies and tips to help you and your spouse support one another through such a difficult time.
Take a deep breath. The most important thing you can do is be there for your spouse and remain calm. Don’t panic, panicking can cause emotional paralysis and further distress an ill individual. Take a breath, step back and figure out how you’re going to tackle the problem as a couple.
Study up. Help your partner become an informed patient by reading all you can about the disease, treatment options and typical progression so you have an idea what to expect and can make the best care decisions. Many disorders have national and local Internet sites that can assist with finding information and support for patients and caregivers.
Attend doctors’ visits together. The best way to assist a critically ill spouse is to be actively involved in the care, which can mean attending all doctors’ visits, tests and follow-ups together. This way, you can be sure that you both covered all questions that you want answered.
Be involved in decision-making. After asking the doctor all of your questions, deciding on a course of action should not just be a decision between your spouse and the doctor. It’s important to make joint care decisions because you, too, are impacted. Be sure to discuss all the pros and cons of any treatment and what side effects to expect, as you’ll have to deal with them as well.
Know what to expect. If your spouse undergoes major surgery or another complex treatment, the transition home from the hospital is critical. Before you leave the hospital, speak to the doctor and get a written set of instructions on how you can best help at home. Have them tell you what the expectation is and what kind of things should you be expecting when your partner gets home? Also find out about any side effects or complications that you should be on the lookout for? Catching these things early can make all the difference.
Care for yourself. Many caregivers neglect to take care of themselves. Even while dealing with the stress of being a caregiver, you need to take time for yourself to eat right, exercise and sleep. If the stress starts to overwhelm you, consider joining a support group.
Know your limits. Don’t expect to do everything. Your spouse may need treatments or other care that you’re unable to provide – and that’s OK. If you’re supposed to be doing personal care, such as bathing, dressing, feeding or medical tasks like wound care, and you realize that you don’t know how, this is a sign you’re in over your head. If you’re faced with tasks you can’t complete, consider hiring a trained caregivier. Many times your insurance will even help cover it.
Even the most comprehensive critical illness insurance policies may contain restrictions, complex terms and stringent procedures. It’s not always simple to understand and claim your allowable benefit. We can help, contact our critical illness lawyer to schedule a consultation.