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8 Ways To Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness

Sadly, illnesses like cancer and dementia will affect almost half of us in our lifetime. Many are directly affected and will not be able to afford the level of care necessary to ensure maximum independence and comfort. Furthermore, emotional distress and grief can wreak havoc on you and your family. I have dealt with chronic illness for some years now and know that it requires patience, persistence, and some good old-fashioned wisdom to handle. It’s not easy, but there are things you can do to navigate difficult changes during long-term illness. Here are 8 important things to consider.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #1: Find Helpful Resources

One of the first things to do if you find yourself sick is to seek out the right resources. This includes a financial plan for the long term. Many people don’t have the finances to get the care they need, but there are organizations and charities that can help. If the money is there, you might consider home health care if you’re struggling with the basic day-to-day tasks. Simply getting information about your specific illness and needs will help you manage and even recover from the illness.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #2: Communication with Your Employer

Your employer will need to know that you have a long-term illness that is likely to keep you off work for a prolonged period of time. If you think you can continue working in some capacity, consider your options as allowed by your employer. Some treatments, like chemotherapy, are very difficult to cope with. Sickness, hair loss, confusion, and exhaustion are common side effects that can come on very suddenly. Should you spend those days working, or use them to rest and aid your recovery? Decide what is best for you first. Your job should be a secondary consideration.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #3: Communication with Your Family and Friends

Even if you don’t want your family to know how ill you are, it’s going to be impossible to hide forever. In fact, you may want to discuss your illness, as this will help you get the aid you need. Even children feel more assured with an explanation of why things are the way they are. Some illnesses create embarrassing symptoms that might make you feel uncomfortable. However, your loved ones will need to know how to navigate such things effectively. 

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #5: Get Help

If you have surgery or a devastating illness, chances are you will need personal care for a time afterward. After all, you might prefer to be at home. Hospital bills are expensive and rooms there aren’t always comfortable. Additionally, you may not want to burden your family with your personal care needs. Instead, home health care aides can be booked to come to your home and serve your medical and other personal needs. Don’t forget – your family will want to help as much as possible, just as you would want to help them.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #6: Stay Mobile

Long term ill health can also greatly affect your mobility. You might find it more difficult to get out and about. It might even be impossible to drive or walk very far. Mobility aids like wheelchairs can help you regain some of your independence. They can also help the people caring for you to give you more freedom to move around together. It’s worth considering any options that help you to do the things you really want to do.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #7: Expect Emotional Changes

Stress can easily creep up on you when you are unwell. As an independent and strong woman, it can be particularly hard to find yourself in this situation. However, don’t be afraid to express your feelings.It can also take great strength and courage to ask for help. Don’t feel like you’re putting anyone out. Instead, embrace the good in the world that creates people like you, willing to go the extra mile for the comfort of others.

Navigate Difficult Changes During Long-Term Illness #8: Quality Self-Care

What other things can you do to get back to your best? Massages, adapted Yoga, meditations, and lots of visits from friends can go a very long way! Use massage whenever you can to keep stress at bay and help get quality sleep. Many Yoga poses can easily be adapted to a seated or even lying position. And meditations can help you balance emotions and negative thinking.

About Madeline

Madeline is a mid-west mom of three who spends most of her time refilling ice trays and changing toilet paper...just kidding. She is a high school guidance counselor, all around funny gal, and a writer. Her first book, Be Happy Already!", is in the works.

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