The Arthritis NewsletterSpring 2017
Partners in PainBy Alexandria Klemm and Karen Tsui
As we all know, life with arthritis can be difficult, frustrating, and painful. Sometimes we just need to ask for some help from our loved ones. They can be our support when we are struggling and we may not realize that they are already helping us in little ways. We’ve asked our loved ones to tell us, in their own words, what they do to help us cope with our chronic illnesses, and also how they think others can help people with arthritis.
Here is a summary of their suggestions and advice:
- Accept the changes in their life and help him or her find the steps to take in order for them to cope as well. Having the right attitude makes an enormous difference on their attitude towards their disease.
- Be patient and remember to give encouragement. Remind them of how well they’re doing on the good days. Be proud of the effort they put in because it takes a lot out of them to do things that we take for granted.
- Have empathy. Remember their limitations and don’t push them too hard.
- On their bad days, do a little more to take some of the burden away.
- Take on more chores, especially the heavy or more difficult ones.
- Help prepare food for a few days to ease the burden.
- If needed and financially possible, outsource some chores to an organization, such as cleaning the house or meal preparations.
- Help to avoid stress as this leads to more inflammation and pain. If you can’t predict then ask them what they may need help with. Use observation and problem solving skills when needed.
- Believe in them, especially when they don’t believe in themselves. Help them to not feel isolated and alone.
- Make them laugh. Laughter is a great form of pain relief.
- Help set up comfort needs for them such as more pillows, ice packs, heat packs/pads, etc.
- Modify the living areas if necessary, such as the bathroom with a higher toilet seat or a stool in the shower.
- Take time to listen and learn in order to educate yourself… understand pain management and their disease, and how fatigue affects them.
- Be a sounding board for decision making about treatment. Be informed and ready to help with making the best decisions.
- Don’t rush them, especially in the morning. Let them move at their own pace.
- Schedule activities around good and bad days to allow full participation when possible.
- Choose physical activities you can do together and some to do apart, such as walk together but ski alone if they’re unable to.
- Help them maintain an appropriate fitness regimen, sleeping pattern, and healthy habits.
As a patient, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and seek out people around you who will be supportive. Even Thor asks for help from the Avengers when needed! A team can make the most monstrous task seem feasible.