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Blog: Keeping it Together When Your Child is Chronically Ill
When your child is diagnosed with a chronic illness like diabetes, asthma or cystic fibrosis for example, your world is suddenly like the inside of a snow globe... everything is moving in a flurry of activity and constant change. But eventually, when the fear and panic subside and your child's condition is more or less under control, you as a parent are left with the task of guiding your family's return to "normal" life.
Chronic illness of a child affects the whole family. And depending on what stage you're at, it can feel like nothing will ever be the same again.
But there are things you can do to keep yourself and the bond with all your children (not just the sick one) as close to normal as possible. These are things that worked for me after my daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and I was searching for ways to cope for myself, for her and for my other daughter.
Communication: The Magic Word
- Talk openly and clearly with your child about everything that's happening. If you try to protect them from the truth of their condition, their worst fears and worries take over.
- Everyone in a family is touched and hurt when one is sick. Talk to your other children about the illness. Answer their questions. Reassure them.
- Also speak openly with your child's teachers, friends, and parents of friends to alleviate any concerns they may have about your child's safety while he or she is in their care.
Let Them Enjoy Some Control
Many parents of newly-diagnosed children want to wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them under lock and key. Your child needs self confidence and self esteem now more than ever, so let them take part in activities they need to develop and grow like a regular kid.
- Chronic conditions can leave kids feeling like they have no control over their lives. Whenever possible, let your child have a say in his treatment -- where and how it takes place, for example.
- Let them choose their own childrens medical ID bracelet. They get the fun and control over picking a style and color they like. You get the peace of mind knowing that they're protected (even when you're not there) by a simple piece of jewelry that communicates their condition to emergency workers. Cool styles are available for teens too!
A serious health condition in a child can also leave the parents feeling a loss of control and a sense they've somehow failed to protect their baby from pain. Use the internet and turn to your health care professional to learn as much as you can about your child's condition and your role in managing it. Knowledge will also help keep your worry and panic from raging out of control!
You need to take care of yourself during this trying time so you don't fizzle out under the strain. Remember, you can't take care of someone else if you're always feeling drained and run down.
- Make sure you're eating, sleeping and caring for your own health needs. It's way too easy to get absorbed in your child's health and forget your own.
- Talk it out. Carrying the weight of a sick child without support is just too hard. Do you have a friend, counselor, minister, or other confidante to talk to about how you're feeling?
- Get away. We all need time to recharge our batteries with some quality "me time". It doesn't have to be a big vacation. Even a few hours somewhere special can refresh and renew us.
Ask for Help
People are often grateful for a chance to help once they know how to be useful. Remember, this is all new to your friends and family, too. So swallow your pride and ask for help when you need it from a kind neighbor, a friend, or respite care worker.
It will help restore your strength and maybe even strengthen your bond with your friends.
By now, most of us who made New Year's resolutions have already tossed them. Let's face it -- change is hard. Old habits are tough to break.
But what if there was a way to improve your 2016 without having to starve yourself, work out or even break a sweat?
I'm talking about sensible, realistic change. Fun change. Meaningful change. So at the end of 2016, you can look back and say, "Now THAT was a good year!"
Become an activist.
Before the rise of social media, being an activist was hard work. You had to organize rallies, travel, and take risks with your own safety and your own finances. But with social media, you can tell the movers and shakers of the world that you're mad as h*** and you're not going to take it anymore.
By identifying the issues that mean a lot to you (the environment? poverty? animal welfare?) it's now easier than ever to have an impact. From the comfort of your home, you can launch and sign online petitions, share them around the world, write letters to politicians, and donate to your favorite causes.
Is this the year you put your voice where your heart is? This video from Care2.com shows how easy it is to be an armchair activist:
Are you creative? Everyone can create. From my own experience running a business, I can tell you that my most "zenlike" moments are when I sit down in front of my jewelry components and design a new necklace or bracelet for the N-Style ID collection. The Golden Gate Cable Bracelet was one of my favorite creations that still gives me great satisfaction to look at.
Creating is a wonderful stress reliever, too. In fact, there are documented reasons why humans NEED to create things.
Whether you love fabrics, yarn or paint, whether you do baking, composing or woodworking, remember to "carve" out some time to make stuff that gives you pleasure in 2016!
Tackle a dreaded task.
Clean the fridge? Vacuum the car? Choose one job you've been putting off for a long time and just do it. The feeling of satisfaction will pay you back every time you open the fridge or get in the car.
Consume more water, less pop.
There are eight teaspoons of sugar in a can of cola. That's just one reason to drink more water. Did you know that sometimes when you feel hungry and reach for a snack, your brain might actually be confusing thirst for hunger?
So on the way to the fridge, make a detour to the water cooler. Keep a tall glass of water at your work station or desk. You'll be amazed how quickly it disappears when you're concentrating on work.
Payoff: Your body will be hydrated, your thirst and appetite quenched, and you'll have dodged hundreds of sugar-loaded calories.
Be silly. Anton Chekhov said,
"Do silly things. Foolishness is a great deal more vital and healthy than our straining and striving after a meaningful life." Ride a tricycle backwards, talk to the dog in Klingon, or scare your family by running for no reason! Joy happens when we let down our guard.
Why only five ideas on our New Year's list? I didn't want to overwhelm you. Try taking on one at a time. If it's hard to get motivated, throw in a reward. "After I clean the garage, I'll play video games with the kids."
Remember: The resolutions we keep are the ones that make us feel good. I hope you have a feel good year!
For people suffering from dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease, activities can be critically important. Success with activities means pride, amusement, staying engaged with life and people, and even remembering bits and pieces of identity.
Although dementia and Alzheimer’s are different, there is substantial overlap between them. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association states that 50-80 percent of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s. Whatever the source of your loved one's dementia, take these tips about activities to play with someone with Alzheimer's and make them work for your situation.
You may think of the blooming and warm weather of springtime as allergy season, but in fact winter allergies are a major issue. In fact, your sniffling and sneezing may not be a cold. How can you tell if you're suffering from winter allergies? And if you are, what can you do about it?
The holiday season should be about sharing wonderful memories and creating new ones. However, for people with Alzheimer's and their families, holidays can be a stressful, uphill battle. As an Alzheimer’s patient, holiday events can seem confusing, depressing, frustrating, or anxiety-producing. And for caregivers, planning for extra events and special occasions can feel exhausting and lonely.
Here are some holiday survival tips for Alzheimer's Disease patients and their loved ones to minimize these kinds of experiences and get all they can from the holidays.