There are 6 distinct life areas that must be addressed when caring for a person with a disability, addiction, or chronic illness:
This includes diet changes, skills like organizing and planning, self-care, and also how we adjust our values and priorities to accommodate illness, disabilities, physical limitations, or crisis.
The impact of a person’s symptoms and experience are not limited to him or her. Siblings are significantly affected. Marriages are challenged. Financial stress can create limits on the entire family. Schedules, routines, holidays, family plans, and traditions may all be disrupted.
In the workplace it can be challenging to advocate for you and your family’s needs, and find a way to succeed and thrive in a system that may not be designed to support your circumstances or that stigmatizes people who are struggling.
When caring for a child, your relationship with their school can depend on multiple factors. Schools may need help to understand the way an illness, addiction or disability can affect social development, cognitive abilities, and learning.
When you are caring for someone else you must adjust your goals and expectations. Your professional life may be impacted, your relationships may change, and your vision of your family’s future may be altered. You may question spiritual values that once brought you comfort and peace.
It is important to find a support system of people who share and understand your experience. It is also necessary for communities to become more compassionate and helpful to families of people struggling with chronic illnesses, addictions, and emotional, intellectual or physical disabilities.
Your health and the health of your family may be affected by the circumstances of caring for someone. In addition, there may be stress in making health-care decisions that go against the values of a doctor, family members, or culture. People in this situation can feel isolated, and exhausted from defending their decisions to others. They need supportive, collaborative relationships with physicians, and a strength-based, person-centered model of health care that considers diet, lifestyle choices, stress, relationships, resources, environment and personal goals in treatment plans.