By Amy Walters, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

If you missed last month’s webinar on Psychosocial Factors Affecting Children and Families Living with Chronic Illness, the recording is now available! In addition, below is a handout to accompany the presentation.

How Does Chronic Disease Impact the Family?

Worry – the child’s health, financial impact, long-term complications, other family member’s needs

Stress – extra demands, ever changing

Changes in lifestyle – eating habits, routine, exercise

Time and energy – for disease-management, planning and preparation, doctors appointments

Increased responsibility – childcare, school, vacations, activities

Competing demands – “the juggling act,” siblings, work, social, financial

Relationship conflict – parent/child, siblings, marriage

Psychological functioning – people with chronic disease and caregivers have higher rates of depression

Top 10 Ways Family Members can be Supportive

Be informed – educate yourself about the disease, your interest shows you care

Participate – in education and appointments

Communicate – talk about your feelings, concerns and desire to help

Act as if – adopt the same lifestyle changes

Ask, don’t tell – offer your support and ask how you can help

Person first – disease is one aspect of your loved one’s life, but shouldn’t define them as a person

Follow the leader – let the family member set the pace and determine areas for change

Be a cheerleader, not a policeman – offer support, encouragement and a positive attitude

Be patient – Expect ups and downs.  It is normal for adherence and motivation to wax and wane.

Take care of yourself – caregivers report higher rates of stress, fatigue and depression.  It is important to practice good self care and have a good support system.

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