It began with those in your inner circle, and it has gradually been spreading outward to close friends and acquaintances. Sharing your COPD diagnosis and knowing how to reply to the many questions that arise about it can be uncomfortable – for you, and for those you are speaking with as well.
Interestingly, you could find that the greatest challenges come in communicating with your primary caregiving partner – the person who is closest to you. The caregiver/care receiver relationship can bring up a plethora of emotions. The individual on the receiving end of care may feel insecure and self-conscious as a result of needing assistance, which can cause feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration, just to name a few. The caregiver may feel incapable of meeting every one of the required needs, regretful for mistakes made, and downright fatigued from trying to handle someone else’s care needs with their own.
There are several key methods to improve communication with your care partner:
- Make sure you’re both completely educated about COPD, the associated symptoms and treatment plans, and its typical progression. The doctor can provide resources for both of you to better understand what you are facing.
- Don’t beat around the bush. Clearly and honestly express your feelings and needs.
- Listen to the other person – and let them know they are being heard. Nod, maintain eye contact or use other nonverbal cues to show you are paying attention.
- Be assertive without being controlling. Your feelings are valid and deserve to be shared in a constructive way without lashing out at the other individual.
- Refrain from using argumentative phrases and words, such as, “You never…” or “You always…”. The individual is probably going to become defensive and hurt feelings will intensify.
- Remember that no one is a mind-reader. If you’re assuming your care partner knows what you are thinking or how you are feeling simply by your actions, it opens the door to misunderstandings.
- Always maintain empathy and respect for each other. You both are facing new and evolving challenges, and will both make mistakes. A little grace will go a long way.
It is also a wise idea to call a time-out if emotions begin to escalate. Take a break from each other while focusing on calming activities, such as listening to music, reading, exercising, or writing in a journal. When you both feel calmer, try the conversation again.
At CareWorks Health Services, we understand the frustrations that can arise when managing a chronic health issue like COPD, and we’re available to help. Our pleasant caregivers make great companions to talk with and spend time engaging in enjoyable activities together. We work with family caregivers to make sure they have time needed for self-care, while enhancing the lives of the seniors for whom they care. Contact us at (949) 859-4700 any time for more information about our award-winning home care in Mission Viejo and the surrounding communities.