If a member of your family is suffering from an autoimmune disease, you may be wondering how to help them get through their illness. While we all want to help them, it can be challenging to support them if you’re not familiar with what they’re going through.
For starters, autoimmune disease is a disorder where their immune system is attacking their body. The immune system is primarily made for protecting our cells, but due to mitigating causes, it can mistakenly attack its host. Autoimmune diseases are not limited to a couple of severe cases. Currently, there are 80 autoimmune disorder types.
As of writing, doctors haven’t figured out the exact cause of autoimmune disease, but they know that some people are more likely to get the disease than others. The condition can stem from someone’s gender and age, genetic lineage, weight, and vises, such as smoking and drinking. People with autoimmune diseases aren’t limited to one either; they can suffer from multiple conditions simultaneously. Examples of common autoimmune disorders are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Type 1 diabetes
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Grave’s disease
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, or low thyroid
- Myasthenia gravis
Family members suffering from any of these conditions can experience fear for their future. One study says that an estimated 25% of patients suffering from an autoimmune disease have an increased chance to develop more autoimmune disorders. Thus, as good family members or friends, we should know how to take care of people suffering from one.
Start with good communication
Talk about autoimmune diseases
People suffering from autoimmune disease are most likely familiar with their family members and friends’ lack of support. Family members can easily dismiss their problems as if it isn’t a big deal, though they don’t mean to most of the time. Because of the nature of autoimmune diseases and how their symptoms are easily mistaken for stress, other people may think autoimmune diseases exaggerate normal pain. If you’re one of the thoughtful people researching about how you can support people suffering from autoimmune disorders, here are a couple of points you should consider doing:
Ask for ways you can help. Willingness to help goes a long way for people who are feeling lonely because of a disease. Remember not to give out solutions. They know better than you. They might have tried out your suggestions, and they know what works and what doesn’t. The essential part is being near them and supporting them through it all.
Support them through thick and thin. Mood swings aren’t uncommon for people with autoimmune disorders. Their day could start tremendous and could come crashing down in the afternoon. Always let them know that you’ll be there to help them through the harshest of days.
Listen to them
Listening and understanding is the sign of a good conversation, and when you’re talking to someone suffering from a disorder, listening is more important than ever. After all, how can you help them if you don’t understand what they’re going through? Consider not interrupting them during their laments, rants, and when expressing their feelings. For effective communication, look at their problems as if you’re experiencing them too. Being too focused on your point of view will only make it harder for the both of you.
Bond with them
Create family events that they can participate in
Maximize bonding with your family members by planning activities that everyone can participate in. Try adding fun, non-physically exertive games you can all play. Consider investing in couch coop games all the family members can enjoy. Games like multiplayer platformers, RPG, and more are examples of games that can help the family have fun together without exerting too much force. If video games are off the table, taking a relaxing vacation or afternoon siestas can help everyone relax and take their minds off problems.
How you can change for their benefit
Apart from the points discussed above, there are ways you can change yourself to help someone in need. The most important of it all is to: be supportive and exhibit the willingness to learn on their behalf. Drastic changes can occur in the household when someone in the family is diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Therefore, you should be willing to accept any changes and help the family with the shift.
It would help if you also were kinder to people with an autoimmune disorder. As discussed above, they can have mood swings that can shift their personality quickly. That’s why you should understand that they’re going through a disorder and accept their unseemly conduct.
Lastly, make them laugh and fit in with the family. Having an autoimmune disorder doesn’t mean they have changed. Continue participating in hobbies you both love and try not to smother them too much with affection. Helping someone with an autoimmune disorder can be difficult and sometimes frustrating. But it’ll all be worth it to see your loved one smile and laugh again.