Caring for a FAMILY member
Caregiving for a FAMILY member with a medical condition is challenging to all persons.
Let me share a few thoughts about the challenges and the measures that an individual can take to address the situation to the best extent possible.
The first challenge is the desire to do everything for the recovery of the family member. This is natural . However, most often the effort and results are not in harmony. I have heard families complaining, “I did everything possible, and he/she has not benefitted”. The simple fact of medical condition is the current limitations of the science. Every medical condition has its own limitations and the results are not dependent only on effort/ spending of money.
The second challenge is the desire to get the BEST care. Often this results in going to the most expensive specialist/ hospital, thinking this will decide the outcome.
Third challenge is the coping with the disruption of personal/ family/ social lives of the family.
WHAT IS A GOOD WAY to respond?
Here are few suggestions.
Firstly, it is important to read from books/ internet, ask doctors and others to KNOW the details about the medical condition. Knowing correct information will help make the right investment and also decrease the disappointments.
Secondly, to remember EFFORT/ INVESTMENT for medical care does not guarantee results. We can be sure of investment(parisharama) and not the result( palithamsa). Avoiding unreasonable expectation will decrease the distress and disappointment.
Thirdly, it is important to have good communication within the family members about the course of illness and treatment. Without such communication, each may feel lonely and feel like overdoing things. Sharing and having a common agenda is good. Such sharing also provides support to each other.
Fourthly, caregiving is demanding on everyone. It is important to take care of personal health by the following measures: giving attention to daily routines as much as possible, nutrition, sleep, maintaining physical activity, finding some time to do pleasurable activities like listening to music, reading a book, or anything that calms the mind. Yoga and meditations help. See the Self Care Resources section.
Fifthly, utilise all the available SUPPORTS by sharing the information and asking for help. Most often I have seen people keeping the illness secret and thus diminishing the possibility of others being of help
Sixthly, please do not make all the decisions for the person with illness. Do not hide information or exclude from decision making. Remember every one has a right to their life.
Finally, it is important to have a spiritual approach to life and recognise the uncertainties as essential part of life.
In Summary, do your best, communicate your commitment to caring your family member, do not relate the results to your effort(s) and develop an attitude of acceptance and learn to live with uncertainty.
Prof. R. SrinivasaMurthy