Do you have a plan in place to support your spouse during a health challenge? Every year, millions of people have to face serious illnesses. A new diagnosis, whether it’s cancer, depression, or anything else, is life-changing for both of you. However, the support of a spouse is often overlooked, but it can make a big difference. If you’ve found yourself in the role of caring for someone in your family during a health challenge, especially your spouse, how can you be most useful to them while still looking after yourself?
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Listen And Share Time
If you aren’t sure what to say to your spouse after a diagnosis, that’s ok. You can reassure them that you love them and will continue to support them. Listen to them if they want to talk, or be willing to just be together if they would prefer to sit quietly. Small things like walking the dog, watching a movie, or having a coffee over the crossword together can all be support during a health challenge. After a serious diagnosis, you might both treasure these little rituals more than ever.
It’s much easier to cope as the well spouse when you have accurate, firsthand information about the condition your spouse is facing, their treatment and their needs. The internet can provide some information, but it’s important to remember that the internet doesn’t always have reliable medical information. Some websites will have misleading or incorrect details, so talk to your healthcare providers instead, whether you need information about counselling, testosterone replacement therapy, or chemotherapy.
Talk To Practitioners Together About a Health Challenge
When your spouse has medical appointments, don’t just sit in the waiting room or sit there silently, unless they ask you to. It can be very helpful to have anther person to listen to the doctor or other healthcare provider explain things during a health challenge. Time with a physician is usually limited, so it can also be helpful to prepare a list of questions and concerns you have together before you go to an appointment.
Prioritize these questions, with the most important ones first, to get the information you need the most. If you are unable to ask all the questions you have listed, ask if you can schedule a follow-up session on the phone, or can send your other questions by email later on.
Any big medical diagnosis will often come with recommended changes from the doctor for your spouse’s diet, activity level, rest, and medication routine. As the well spouse, you can offer support and encouragement to keep them on track, but this new part of your role can also cause some feelings of frustration for both of you. You might feel stressed and they might not appreciate being nagged.
It can be helpful to enlist the support of your healthcare provider to prioritize which changes are the most important to get in place and to remind your partner that these changes are the ones that the doctor strongly recommends. This can help to reduce the feeling that you are nagging or trying to exert control but is instead being a partner and helping the healthcare provider too.