Smiling cancer woman with headscarf embraced by young happy girl

The day may never come when someone close to you is seriously sick, suffering from multiple illnesses.  But if that day comes, odds are you will not be prepared.  Let’s face it, most people are not equipped with the skills and experience to handle what lies ahead of them.  Within short order, you are overwhelmed with a myriad of details that can hold dire consequences if you aren’t organized and informed.

Firstly, buy yourself two organizational items. You will need a 5-subject notebook with folders and a 2-3–inch 3-hole binder with pockets.  These two items will become your daily partners as you are given advice, options, and a lot of paper notices that you don’t want to lose.  A calendar is also handy for keeping a timeline, but you can also just take notes that are dated as well.  Keep good notes, categorize your topics, and plan as you go.

Secondly, take care of yourself.  There will be long days and short amounts of sleep.  Accept help whenever you can.  Gather a network of family and good friends that will support you so you can support your loved one.

Thirdly—and finally—the Doctors, Nurses, and others on the professional care staff are excellent resources.  They can help you help your loved one.  Without sounding rude, I can only say this – treat them with respect and professionalism.  You may all be in for a long haul and will be working side by side together to achieve the same goals.  Respect their time, and be prepared with a list of questions ahead of time.  Take notes on everything they tell you.  Then, when you are alone, review to make decisions so that you can clearly advise others of details.

Taking on the care and responsibility of someone suffering from multiple illnesses can be a heavy load to bear, but it can be rewarding and fulfilling.  Never underestimate the importance of the work you are doing. It is necessary and a gift to the person you are caring for.

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