Some of us have been a caregiver for elderly or those with serious health conditions. Caregivers should understand how people who receive the care could feel. They could want to be left alone and terrified with their condition. Although caregivers want to provide comfort, every single thing they do may end up causing irritation and frustration. Unfortunate illness or accidents could also affect family members, work colleagues and friends; not just people who directly suffer from the actual event. While they are whipped around by confusion and fear; family members also often experience an emotional whirlwind. One big difference is that these family members get very little attention for their hardship.

Despite these difficulties, family members should do the following to provide care effectively:

1. Listen: People who have serious illness or accident could clearly say to family members to leave them alone. Although affected individuals may need some time to be alone, caregivers need to keep listening. Just because of something rude they said yesterday, it doesn’t mean that also remain true today. Caregivers should keep asking. Eventually, caregivers could begin to understand and read all the signals. Many people who have an illness don’t talk a lot, but it’s important to keep the communication line open.

2. Understand that affected individuals don’t feel that they are in control: People who don’t have control over anything that happens to their bodies could be quite scared. Serious illnesses could change many things. Treatments may involve plenty of drugs, chemicals and even radiotherapy equipments. This may affect their moods and taste buds. People want to be normal, unfortunately, normal things are already gone for many of them. If affected individuals can’t eat food that we have labored over, it doesn’t mean that they are rejecting us. Some people who are undergoing treatment may not be able to cope with basic tastes. Even an apple could taste too sweet; while others may have taste only for apple pie.

3. Ask help from professionals: Family members may not be professional caregivers and they may ask more experienced individuals for specific suggestions.

4. Find support groups for people with the same kind of illness: Due to their condition, people we care for may not be able to visit a counsellor or attend relevant support groups. However, it should be easy to arrange relevant meetings when we could find such a group. In reality, people who can offer true comfort are those who survived from the same kind of disease. Affected individuals may not be willing to talk too much to family members, but they can speak more freely with people from support groups.

5. Take care of ourselves: Serious illness could be relentless and caring for people with such a condition may feel like an extended marathon instead of a sprint. There’s no point exhausting ourselves and ruining our own well being and health. Family members should listen to music, watch TV, hang out with friends and exercise. They need to find time to do these things.

Family members who care for affected individuals also need as much care. They could be confused and scared too. They also need to think about themselves and talk with people who have concern for them.