Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

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Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

Families and Acute Illness; Every day families are impacted by acute events that change their lives. Unlike progressive illnesses, these events – be it accident or rapid onset illness – change the world for not only the patient but their entire family. Many of these families dealing with acute illnesses take up watch in hospital waiting rooms or patient rooms, enduring costly cafeteria dinners and uncomfortable visitor chairs. In the recent push for family-centered care, hospitals are looking at ways to make family members more comfortable so they can better be a part of patient treatment, but these changes will take years to make the necessary difference. In the meantime, friends and support networks can utilize these three tips to help families dealing with an acute illness.

Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

The first tip for friends and family members wanting to support a patient or family member dealing with an acute illness is to be available to listen. As doctors huddle around the patient to confer, parents may have a growing sense of confusion and disillusionment. The doctors and nurses won’t always have all of the answers right away. At this juncture, friends can be available to listen to parents and family members discuss their ideas as well as their frustrations. When these concerns become too much, friends can also be resourceful in locating a hospital staff member such as a patient representative to listen and take action on the parents’ behalf.

Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

The second tip in dealing with a family who must face an acute illness in their ranks is to provide essentials. Many people will offer to provide meals for families when a member is in the hospital. Remember, though, that you can take this a step further. Buy toiletries, groceries, or other essential household items. Offer to clean the house or take care of pets or mail. These activities and services may fall to the wayside as people gather around a sick loved one, and knowing that these responsibilities are taken care of can go a long way towards helping to ease minds.

Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

The third tip for helping a family dealing with an acute illness is sometimes the hardest. To fully support a family member trying to process rapidly occurring events, sometimes the most important thing a friends can do is to honor the silence. Allowing a person to simply think or daydream can provide space for coping that talking and playing host or hostess often negates. Provide company in the room of a sick loved one, and let it be okay to sit in silence and contemplate. Let it be okay to shed silent tears without immediate words of encouragement.

Families and Acute Illness: Tips for Helping Families Dealing with an Acute Illness

These three tips are not an exhaustive list for dealing with friends who may be suffering from an acute illness, but they are a good foundation service and support. Acute crises such as motor vehicle accidents or diseases that pop up unexpectedly are very stressful and life-altering, but effective support from friends can help families make it through with resilience.

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