As an arthritis caregiver you probably wonder what the future will hold.
normal to have some fears when a loved one is diagnosed with arthritis.
However, by learning more about the illness and facing your fears as an
arthritis caregiver, you can keep anxiety from getting out of hand.
Sorting Arthritis Fact from Fiction
fears are realistic. Arthritis can, in fact, lead to changes in the
activities you share with your loved one. Others are blown out of
proportion, however. The changes that occur don't have to be disastrous
to your relationship.
One of the best ways to
ward off unfounded fears is to educate yourself about what to expect
from arthritis. Start by talking to the person's doctor, but don't stop
there. Chat with other friends and family members who have arthritis,
or join a support group. Getting to know people who lead full,
productive lives despite arthritis is a great antidote to worry. And
take advantage of the wealth of knowledge in books and magazines and on
websites. Just be cautious about the sources of the information. Steer
clear of people peddling miracle cures, and ask your family doctor
about any doubts or questions.
Giving Others an Earful
with other feelings, be honest with your loved one about your fears.
Chances are, he or she has had many of the same feelings, too, and will
welcome the chance to talk about them openly. Some of your darkest
fears may vanish simply by bringing them to light in conversation.
Other family members, friends, support group participants, health care
providers, and religious leaders also may be willing to lend a
Watching for Red Flags
though, just talking about your fears may not be enough. Watch for
these signs that your anxiety may be spiraling out of control:
constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts
long-lasting feelings of stress over everyday activities
a habit of expecting the worse, even when there is no reason
an inability to ever really relax, or trouble sleeping
unexplained physical symptoms, such as tiredness, trembling, muscle tension, headache, upset stomach, or irritability
attacks of intense panic that strike without warning and include
disturbing symptoms, such as chest pain, a pounding heart, shortness of
breath, dizziness, upset stomach, and a fear of dying
anxiety about being an arthritis caregiver seems to be getting the best
of you, talk to your doctor or a mental health care provider. It
doesn't mean you're crazy, but it does mean you might benefit from a
little professional help. Counseling, medications, or both can be very
effective against serious anxiety. Even caregivers need to receive a
helping hand now and then.