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Mental Illness: How To Provide Better Care for an Ill Family Member or Friend

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The past few weeks I have featured a variety of views on mental illness. This week I would like to share a few tips on how to navigate the rough waters of long term living with one of these devastating illnesses.

As a mother of a son with Schizophrenia, I have had to learn a whole new language. I have had to learn how to talk to someone who does not have the same reasoning ability that I do. I have had to learn how to be respectful, loving, caring. and patient. I am glad to do this because I love my son.

How To Provide Better Help for Your Ill Loved One

I cannot emphasize how much the NAMI Family-to-Family Education Classes have helped me to be able to do this. I have a few important points I would like to share to help each of you be a better help to your ill loved one:

  • Learn as much as you can about your loved ones illness.
  • Learn how to draw boundaries so that your loved one knows where you stand.
  • Do not be afraid to disagree or to take a stand.
  • Learn how to talk to your loved one so that you understand each other.
  • Continue to learn everything you can.
  • Take care of yourself so that you will be able to deal with the long term nature of your situation.
  • Remember that this is most likely a life-long journey you and your loved one are on so solicit help from other family members and friends to help you.
  • Find ways to have fun with your loved one so that not all of your experiences are sad or difficult.
  • Adjust your expectations to accurately reflect your loved one's true abilities. Finding a balance between what you want them to accomplish and what they can realistically achieve is difficult but possible.
  • Find someone who you can talk to who is experiencing a similar situation and with whom you can share ideas.
  • Love your ill family member unconditionally so that they know they have someone they can always depend on.
How has mental illness effected your family? How are you getting the help you need?
This is part five of a five-part series. To check out the other posts in this series and other posts we’ve featured on mental illness, please click on these links:
Photo courtesy of flickr.
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