by Rebekah Scott
(last updated December 16, 2009)
Nothing is more difficult than watching someone you love deal with the pains and complications of a disease. Helping a family member with fibromyalgia can be especially difficult, as there is no cure and no pill that can make it simply go away. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that your loved one will have to deal with for the rest of their life.
The first thing that you can do to help a family member with fibromyalgia is to be constant in your assistance and encouragement. People with fibromyalgia will need the emotional support of trusted loved ones to help them navigate their medical appointments, tests, and procedures, as well as their at-home care plans. They will also need emotional support when the disease becomes especially burdensome to them. Be there for the long run. Let them know that they can count on you for help, and always be aware of their needs.
You will also have great opportunities to help your loved ones with fibromyalgia develop and execute at-home care plans that will to ease the symptoms of this disease. Ask your family member's doctor for insight, read the literature that they provide you with, and do your own research online or in print resources to discover the different ways that other fibromyalgia suffers have dealt with the pain that they experienced.
For example, many people with fibromyalgia use hot wraps and heat pads to soothe joint and muscle pain. A wide variety of these products can be found online or in medical supply catalogs , you can also make them by sewing felt or cotton bags and filling them with dried rice, corn, or beans. Many fibromyalgia sufferers also find warm baths to be soothing to aching joints and muscles.
Another side affect of fibromyalgia is often the onset of depression. If you think that your family member is suffering from depression, encourage them to speak with their doctor about medical options such as medication and/or therapy. Aside from this, keep an eye out for any mood swings or periods of sadness or despondency. Be a listening ear and encourage your family member to talk through their problems. Don't be too quick to offer solutions or fixes to their problems. Being a receptive listener is often times the most helpful thing that you can do for someone with depression.
Fatigue is one of the most prevalent symptoms of fibromyalgia. Even after a full night's sleep, it's still possible for someone with this disease to feel tired and exhausted. Regular exercise has proven to boost energy levels, so join your family member in any physical activity that they enjoy such as walking, jogging, or playing tennis. You should also be prepared to readjust plans or fill-in for a loved one if they are too tired to participate in activities. Though this may throw a kink in your plans, learn to be flexible and accommodating.
Family support is key when a loved one has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. As your loved one experiences the ups and downs of the road ahead, let them know that you can always be counted on for assistance. With this support, they will be able to handle the hardships ahead with greater success.
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