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HOW FAMILY MEMBERS CAN SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WITH ARTHRITIS

Posted Oct 05 2011 4:24am

Family Members are often forgotten when we talk about living with arthritis. I have a great wife and two fantastic daughters, who support me, push me and love me, and I appreciate them in my life. When I was first diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 30 years ago, it was my parents and sister who took on this role. Family members cannot under estimate the impact and support they can bring to their loved one, living with arthritis.
 

First of all, if you have a husband, wife, child or significant loved one in your life who is coping with arthritis, I want to say thank you and let you know you are valuable to that person. It may not be expressed to you very often, but you make our lives wonderful and we appreciate it.
 

Secondly, I want to give you three initial tips (more to come) on how you help that loved one as they live day to day. This is not a disease that has to be battled alone; it can be fought with friends and family standing alongside giving support.
 

Note: The first tip may surprise you and may be difficult at times to do, but it is necessary to the health and well being of your family member. With that, let me simply say, common sense must be exercised as each situation is different.
 

Tough Love.  This is probably the hardest of these to follow through with, but may have the greatest long term benefit. By tough love I simply mean, don’t do everything for the person, and let them struggle on their own. I know it’s hard to see someone you love dealing with pain or having great difficulty doing something. The longer someone with arthritis can keep mobile, exercise the joints, exert and push themselves, the better. In fact you may even see improvement over time. It is great physical therapy and it also helps keep a positive attitude. If you do everything for that love one, they will get lazy, they will have reduced mobility and strength and it will cause them to be depressed. So the next time you are tempted to jump up and help, ask yourself this. Do they really need my help or can they struggle through this on their own?
 

Hold Their Hand.  There are days when nothing is said, but you can sense something is wrong. It’s not necessarily the time to rush in and talk because words may not be able to express the emotions your loved one is dealing with. They might not want to say a word and that’s ok. Holding their hand, a gentle hug or an arm around them may speak greater to them of the love and support they have, and will go a long way in letting them know, they are not alone. Don’t underestimate how a small act of gentle affection can brighten a dark day.
 

Food and Exercise.  Exercise and a healthy diet, even eliminating certain foods, can further help someone thrive as they live with arthritis. Support your loved one, not by pushing them to exercise, but by exercising with them. Assist them with healthy eating habits and offer to remove or reduce certain foods from your diet if they can’t eat it. Make it a lifestyle you live together, the benefit of showing support is, you will also look and feel good.
 

This is not an exhaustive list and I plan to continue with this topic in days ahead, so please stay tuned.

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