7 ADVICE ON HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT RELATIVES WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
Knowledge about cognitive difficulties is the first step, when you want to support your relatives in dealing with problems like remembering, concentrating and maintaining an overview. Cognitive difficulties can be manifested in many different ways. As relatives, you may mistakenly interpret interpretations or lack of overview as if the person is not committed or lacking will. It is important that you know that your relatives are neither stupid, lazy, nor demented. When you get a better understanding of what’s happening, you’ll also have more realistic expectations about what your relatives can or can not do. If you turn down your expectations and accept that your relatives for a period can not do the same as before, it can help reduce conflicts in everyday life.
How do you support your relatives?
There are no rules for how little and how much to support. It depends on the individual and the given situation. But there are some general issues that are important to know as relatives:
Social contexts are challenging
Social contexts make great demands on thinking – especially when you have cognitive difficulties. Be aware of the expectations you have for your intercourse. In periods of cognitive difficulties, your relatives may not have the opportunity to attend gatherings with neighbors, birthdays in the circle of friends and similar social activities.
All beginnings are hard and changes take time
New initiatives, such as the use of a calendar, require the most support during the first few months, where regular routines have not yet been incorporated. Your support may initially be to remind your relatives about writing appointments in the calendar or having the calendar with you everywhere. Your support can be reduced gradually as your relatives become familiar with using the calendar.
When the mood and energy fall, the need for support grows
Your relatives need more support during the periods when the difficulties are greatest. If your relatives have a depression and the mood is bad, you can not expect that he or she has the benefit of even working to remedy the cognitive difficulties. However, in times of more surplus, the person will be able to make an effort even more. New initiatives, such as using a calendar, should therefore be introduced during a period when your relatives have the benefit of incorporating the new routine.
Use more time and fewer words
When you talk with your relatives, you should have time for a quiet conversation. Use fewer words and say the most important things first, as it may be difficult for the person to concentrate on a longer conversation.
Your role as relatives
As relatives, can you help to:
Inspire the person to remedy the difficulties, eg by suggesting the use of a calendar
Support your family member in building good practices, for example, reminding the person to remember to take the calendar with you everywhere.
Assist him or her in periods when it is necessary, for example, you may be the one who has an overview of cooking and domestic work. Delivers simple and manageable tasks to your family member (eg peeling potatoes or cutting grass).
Remember to take care of yourself!
Stick to your own life and your interests as far as possible – it can give you more profits to be there for your relatives.
Talk to your network about how the situation affects you. Perhaps there are also someone in your network that can give a hand and relieve you sometimes, for example in relation to childcare or practical tasks?
It can also help you to meet with other relatives, eg in a relatives group. Here you can share your experiences and inspire each other in dealing with the situation.