It's Time to Recruit Your Team!
After being diagnosed with a chronic illness, you may be facing a roller coaster of emotions including fear, sadness, anger, or anxiety. The one feeling that you should not have to experience is loneliness.
It is important to build a circle of supportive family members, neighbors, and friends who you can call on when you need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a helping hand. Sometimes just getting a hug from a family member or having a chat with a friend can be the greatest gift when you are having a tough day.
Social interaction is also very important, especially as we get older. Get involved with your church or other groups in your community so you can keep your calendar full of activities that you enjoy. The personal connections and friendships you develop at these activities will have a major impact on your overall wellness.
You will also need to build your medical team of doctors and caregivers who you trust. Have conversations about what your vision is for your care plan and what you want your future to look like. You should also share these plans and goals with your family.
It is important to ask your team for help when you need it. Your family and friends will want to help you, so let them know what they can do that would be the most beneficial to you. And if they offer you a meal or a ride – take it! It just might make you both feel better!
Finding Team Players
“It is so important to build a strong team around us as we age or deal with chronic illnesses,” says Katie Johnson, DO, Medical Director of Palliative Care at Beebe. “Just as we plan for other big events in life, such as weddings and college,
we must also plan for aging and potential illnesses.”
Dr. Johnson meets with patients and their families to make sure they have the tools to build a supportive team. She recommends:
- Financial power of attorney
- Medical power of attorney, in addition to an advance directive
- Primary care doctor
- Palliative care team, if you are living with a life-limiting illness
- Social worker or case manager (some insurances provide this)
- Transportation support – friends, family, bus, etc.
- Friends and social network
- Clergy member
It is crucial to form your team and make these decisions while you are well and of sound mind. Planning ahead makes the aging process easier, gives peace of mind, and creates a higher quality of life.