Lyme disease can be a devastating condition to live with. It can affect a person both physically and emotionally, so it’s important that Lyme disease patients are given a great amount of support from their loved ones to help them manage and cope with their health issues. Do you ave a friend or family member with Lyme disease? Here are 10 ways you can help, support and care for them during their struggle.
Because Lyme disease is not very highly publicised, much of the general public does not know much about the condition. So, your first step should be to learn as much as you can about Lyme disease. Head online and research how the infection is contracted, as well as what symptoms a person with Lyme disease experiences. This can give you a better idea of what your loved one is going through on a daily basis with this chronic illness.
Embrace new diet or health plans
If you want to be supportive, one way is to help the patient really commit to new healthy lifestyle choices. Many Lyme disease patients follow a specific diet to help alleviate their symptoms, while some try out new fitness routines to boost their stamina and strength. Eat the same foods as them when you dine together and take part in their exercise regimen to show you understand and support the health goals they’re trying to achieve.
Be a good listener
It is essential that you’re a good listener if you want your loved one to feel cared for. Let them vent about their frustrations, cry about their distressing symptoms, or even just complain about their doctors. Showing that you’re always available to listen can make them feel like they have a reliable, compassionate person that’s got their back. Also, as a good listener, try to abstain from doing any kind of judging or offering solutions unless they’re explicitly asked for. People with chronic illness often just need someone to listen to them without expressing judgement or trying to fix things for them.
Check in regularly
Show your loved one that you’re in their corner by checking up on them regularly. You can call, text or email just to say that you’re thinking of them. Living with Lyme disease can be a very isolating experience, so knowing that someone cares enough to text a simple ‘hello’ can be healing for the patient. This also lets the person know that they’ll have support in both good times and bad, since your check-ins will be consistent.
Offer to help out (even in little ways)
Offers to help (even simple ones) can be hugely beneficial to someone fighting Lyme disease. Whether it’s bringing over dinner, helping to clean their house or just running errands for them, any kind of assistance can help when Lyme disease sufferers are feeling fatigued or are in pain.
Don’t be pushy
It’s common for people to want their loved ones to be all better quickly. Unfortunately, that’s not typically the way Lyme disease works. Don’t be pushy in your efforts to be supportive. Let them know it’s okay if their symptoms aren’t improving, that you’re still with them in the fight, no matter what. Don’t push them to be more positive or optimistic – just let it be okay wherever they’re at in their journey.
Be flexible with plans
Lyme disease symptoms can be somewhat unpredictable. So, if your loved one often has to change or cancel plans at the last minute because of a flare-up, let them know you totally understand. Don’t express any judgement or anger, because they likely already feel guilty about having to cancel. Offer to reschedule when they’re feeling a little better.
Give space when necessary
Sometimes people with chronic illness will want to be surrounded by friends and family, but there are also times when they might require some alone time. If your loved one expresses a need for some quiet time away from other people, make sure to be accommodating. They might need space to work through how they’re feeling, to get some rest during a particularly hard time, or to get a little escape from their problems. Let them know that having space for themselves is totally reasonable (and often necessary).
Don’t get offended by irritability
Some Lyme disease patients experience bouts of emotional instability. They can get angry over little things or snap at people without meaning to. They often can’t control potential mood swings or the frustration they may feel coping with this condition. So don’t get offended if your loved one all of a sudden has a quick temper or gets easily annoyed. Just express understanding, offer to help with the problem if you can, or give them space to clear their minds.
Buy them fun little gifts
Coping with Lyme disease can be such a disheartening journey. Help cheer your loved one up with small gifts (books, movies, little treats, etc.) that will help lift their spirits. Additionally, buying gifts that are perfect for people with Lyme disease (such as cosy slippers, a warm blanket or a Netflix subscription) can all demonstrate that you understand their daily struggle.
There are so many ways you can support a loved one living with Lyme disease. The most important thing is just to be there for them – both physically and emotionally. Be present with them in their fight, and they’ll be able to grow stronger because of your love and support.