Many changes occur in the life of someone who must live with a chronic condition such as arthritis. It not only affects the person who has the disease, but also significantly impacts the people around them....especially their family.
Living with chronic arthritis can have a major impact on a marriage. Many lifestyle changes are likely to occur as the physical limitations of the patient become more prevalent. As restrictions become imposing, some activities need to be curtailed. The social life of the married couple is one thing that can be affected, since the patient is unable to do as much. Though this is necessary for the patient to help control pain and fatigue, the healthy spouse can become frustrated because their social life is impacted too. Another consequence of living with chronic arthritis is how it alters family responsibilities. Chores and responsibilities may need to be transferred to another family member who can better handle it. This can create a stressful situation for both the person who must undertake more responsibility and the person who must admit to themself that they have become more dependent. Financial responsibility is another area which may require modification if the patient has been the main breadwinner in the family and if a career transition is forced by disability.
Patience is required and the willingness to openly communicate fears, concerns, and anxieties. An understanding between partners must be achieved in order to continue working as a team.
Young children are very dependent on their parents. When a parent is afflicted with chronic arthritis and the children are still very young, the child will likely grow up approaching the disease the way they observe their parent approaching it. If the child observes acceptance, they will feel acceptance themselves. The most difficult part for the parent is when they realize they cannot do as much with the child, especially in the physical sense. The focus must become the things you can do together. Quantity of time spent together becomes secondary to quality time.The solution:
Young children are unlikely to ask many questions about the arthritis, however, be open to addressing their fears. Make it known to them that arthritis is not a fatal disease, and convey to them the feeling that everything is under control. Allow them to feel secure.
Dealing with adolescents is different than dealing with young children. Adolescents are older and able to read, learn, and understand more complex information. They are likely to have more questions about the disease and about the resulting family situation. Adolescents typically are becoming more independent just at the time when you may need them more. At a time when their help may be required with household chores, they are at a stage when they want to do less. Conflict can occur because of this, but if it is realized by everyone concerned that with more responsibility comes more privilege, a unique compromise can be maintained.The solution:
Address all questions which adolescents might pose realizing their need to understand the situation. Realize their emotional needs at this time in their life. Create and maintain a give and take atmosphere whereby their dependability is recognized as maturity and rewarded with privileges.