Caregiving with Difficult Diagnoses

Accepting a difficult diagnosis of a loved one can be an overwhelming feeling. No one expects our loved ones to end up with a chronic illness, let alone a terminal condition. There is no right or wrong answer to managing in this environment. You simply have to take each day as it comes. What is helpful is a broad coalition of family and friends that can be called upon to give you a break and offer some downtime. We know exhaustion and physical strain is real in the caregiving space. Taking care of “YOU” is a significant need.

Acknowledge Health Conditions!

You must be careful with loved ones with memory diagnoses(Dementia/Alzheimer/Vascular Conditions/Mental Health Circumstances) because they often relate to, or calm down with familiar faces, voices, and environments. Introduce other family and friends with caution into settings where our care recipients are challenged in this way. If family and friends are offering to help, let them visit ahead of their scheduled assistance, so they can form a relationship. Keeping the irritation and agitation down is vital.

Observing a loved one’s health decline, can be a profound experience. As a caregiver, you may feel uncomfortable for not providing all the care. But we are human, so sharing with others the caregiving journey is necessary. Guilt cannot be part of this equation. We have to have these conversations. Society is living longer and health challenges will come. Knowing of community support programs is also a way to gain support and breathe. Last, focus on one day at a time. The unknowns of tomorrow, are just that, unknowns, so don’t worry about them. Try your best to make each day, even the challenging ones, a good day. My mother would say…Make it a good day!

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I know we must acknowledge challenging diagnoses, after all, we can’t change them. So each day, high-five yourself on one good thing accomplished. Be grateful for the small things and keep a positive attitude as our unknown caregiving experiences find us.

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