27 July 2008

Interesting Article

Why Me?
by Deborah Pipas

Why me? Has your disabled family member ever ask you this question? I have been asked several times and as much as I hate to admit it I still don’t have an answer. As I go through this maze I find a lot of unanswered questions and sometimes answers and no questions.

I have talked with family members and disabled persons alike that have told me the same thing over and over “no one else in the family has suffered like this”. Where did this disability come from and why has it happened to me/us? Of course I don’t have the answers I really don’t think anyone does. There are genetic reasons that can skip generations as well as a whole list of additional reasons we hear from doctors and healthcare specialist. It still doesn’t make the family or the disabled person feel any better about the situation. Sometimes we must find a way to move past the why me part and get on with the what do we do now part.

Once a family member has been diagnosed with a life changing disability we must search for ways to move forward sometimes accepting that it is what it is. Things don’t have to stop there and usually they don’t. The family finds a way to adjust but how do we help the disabled person adjust? Unfortunately it takes a lot of work on the part of the family, healthcare workers, caregivers and last but not least the disabled person.

Depending on the disability and the age of the patient often we need to just sit down with the them and find out what hopes and dreams they have for the future. We need to be honest with them about their limitations and be prepared to help them find the resources that are available. Encouragement is huge and sometimes very difficult to offer when we are discouraged ourselves.

There is a lot of help available in this day and time. Having access to the internet can put us in touch with others suffering the same type of disability. There are family and individual support groups, books written on just about every disability known to man. The list of resources is infinite.

What do you do when you just don’t know what to do to help your disabled loved one get past the why me stage? Reach out to others who are experiencing the same trials, errors, set-backs, hopes, dreams and successes. Perhaps the disability is not the same but many times the emotions involved are feelings to which we can relate.

The most important thing is to help the disabled person realize that just because they are limited in some way doesn’t mean that they cannot enjoy life. If your loved one feels more comfortable around others that suffer the same symptoms locate local groups that meet. If they enjoy reading and are open to ideas regarding how others have learned to cope with their limitations and learned to enjoy life then help them locate books. Your local library is a wonderful resource and many are now online so that you can locate and reserve books you or your disabled loved one would enjoy reading.
Spend time with them if they are severely disabled sometimes just holding their hand or combing their hair will make them feel better. Think about things that you would want someone to help you to accomplish if you were in their place.

To the family and caregivers I encourage you to find ways to take time off and do something nice for yourself. Perhaps go see a comedy with a friend or plan a night out with your spouse or significant other. Often we just need a small break from life’s reality to rejuvenate our soul and spirit.

If your disabled loved one lives in a care facility outside the home perhaps you could visit a little more often, drop them a note or mail a small thoughtful gift when you can’t visit as often as you would like.

The most important thing is to try to find things that bring joy and happiness to both you and your disabled loved one. Do something that will bring a smile to their face or light up their eyes. Let them know that you really care about them and that everything you do for them is because you love them.

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