February 2023

How To Uplift a Loved One With a Life-Threatening Illness

If your loved one is dealing with or has a life threatening illness, they're likely experiencing many new and confusing emotions. As their caregiver, a large part of providing care is recognizing physical signs that indicate your family member or friend could use a pick-me-up. In this blog, we're providing some signs they may be in a slump and offer tips to help lift their spirits.

Aches & Pains

Although it’s common for someone facing a life-threatening diagnosis to experience pain, physical aches and discomfort can worsen when combined with extreme sadness. You may notice your family member or friend frequently changing positions and tensing up; These are signs they are feeling the physical symptoms of stress and sorrow. To help them loosen up and relax, we suggest going outdoors for a short walk or simply sitting outside for fresh air. These two tips can provide your loved one with a little mid-day pick-me-up.

Appetite Changes

It’s okay if your loved one isn’t enjoying their favorite foods anymore. A change in appetite is common for those with a life-threatening illness. If your family member or friend is melancholy about their new appetite needs, a great way to help them feel more like themselves is to offer support, avoid being pushy or forceful about eating, if they want to eat, prepare small portions of their favorite cuisine, and offer to eat or sit with them. These small actions can help them feel more normal, which can help motivate them, regain strength, and lift themselves out of a slump.

Sleepiness & Insomnia

Feeling fatigued is expected for someone facing a life-threatening illness. While it’s important to let your loved one sleep to regain strength and recoup, it’s essential as a caregiver to track sleeping patterns, as sudden excessive sleeping or insomnia can be a symptom of sadness. If you notice your family member or friend experiencing irregular or sudden changes in their sleep, consider a few of the following methods to help them feel more relaxed: 

  • Select high-quality pillows and blankets
  • Add calming white noise machines to their sleeping space
  • Take time each day to go outside and breathe fresh air
  • Try to keep a regular sleeping routine
  • Check in frequently about their quality of sleep
  • Ask for ways to help them feel more comfortable

As a caregiver to someone facing a life-threatening illness, providing comprehensive care also includes monitoring their feelings, emotions, and mood. Not only will your loved one feel better mentally, but keeping their spirits up can help them feel motivated, optimistic, and peaceful and can help them regain strength to continue their fight.

Another excellent way to help your ill family member or friend feel a sense of normalcy and peacefulness is to apply for a Respite through A Week Away. Our Respites provide families with an expense-paid week away from the stresses of caregiving, bills, or doctor visits. Visit aweekaway.org/receive to learn more about our Respites and start an application.