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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    How can you support your partner who is dealing with a chronic illness or disability?

    Trying to support a partner dealing with a chronic illness or disability is an emotionally and emotionally challenging journey. Every  individual  will handle their health situation differently and have unique needs that require different levels of attention, so it’s important to remain flexible and respond rather than reacting. It’s also essential that both partners show understanding, communication, and trust as they settle into their new way of life.

    It’s difficult to provide the kind of unconditional support and care needed if you don’t have an understanding of what your partner is experiencing. Read up on the condition to get a better understanding of the scope of their symptoms, how the condition might vary overtime, and what day-to-day life looks like for a person living with the illness. Patients often report feeling heard and respected when their partner has taken the time to understand their condition.

    Accepting the changes that come with a chronic illness or disability can be hard for both partners. Be sure to make time for each other, in whatever shape that takes, even if it’s just expressing gratitude for the present moment together or sharing little moments of joy. It’s also possible that your partner may need more help or physical assistance than before, so be prepared to take over certain responsibilities if you can. In many cases, patients feel guilty of overloading their partner with chores, so be sure that they understand that when you’re helping its out of love, not obligation.

    The stress of living with a chronic illness or disability can have a profound effect on mental health. Make sure that open channels of communication remain available at all times and help your partner seek professional support if needed (specialized mental health services have been adapted to aid those with chronic conditions). Learning to cope with change and difficult emotions through healthy activities like mindfulness, journaling, counseling, or art can be highly effective. It’s also important to make sure that both partners recognize the need to take time for themselves and not forget about self-care.

    When working with medical professionals, having someone familiar with the day-to-day management of the illness can help make the process easier. Volunteering to attend medical appointments with your partner can be beneficial for both of you. Being there for them to answer questions, listen to the doctor, and remember details can lighten the burden. When it comes to treatments, make sure that you are up to date on any necessary precautions and be prepared to intervene/advocate if it becomes overwhelming.

    Living with a chronic illness or disability can be an isolating experience, so organizing activities with friends, family, or support groups can be extraordinarily helpful. Many organizations have implemented virtual social activities, so find ways to stay connected to people outside your home, like with video call game nights, online support groups, and virtual yoga classes.

    Supporting a partner with a chronic illness or disability takes time, understanding, resilience, and patience. your partner will appreciate anything you do with kindness—even just listening. Even when life feels unpredictable, know that you’re not alone in this journey of adversity and growth.

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