Advice for Family
Advice for family and friends
Gastroparesis is a complex condition that can manifest and interfere with a person’s life in various ways. The impact of gastroparesis is not limited to the person diagnosed but can also affect their friends, family members, and partners. It can be quite distressing to see someone you care about live with chronic illness.
Remember that you, as a friend, family member or partner, can have a significant positive impact in their life. Providing meaningful support can be challenging, especially if you know little about gastroparesis or what it is like to live with it. Everyone has different ways of managing gastroparesis, and it helps to be patient while the person is learning how to best manage their symptoms. Consider the following suggestions as a place to start.
- Lend an ear. Actively listening to the person and their concerns is a good way to show that you care. It is also a good way to gain some insight into their condition in a way that is not intrusive – let themdisclose their thoughts and feelings about their condition rather than asking them unprompted (potentially bringing their attention to gastroparesis when they prefer not to think or talk about it).
- Spending time with them or accompanying them to their doctor’s appointment. Having an illness such as gastroparesis can be isolating (especially if the person prefers to keep their illness and symptoms to themselves). Sometimes just being present with the person can make them feel less alone.
- Developing your own knowledge of gastroparesis. Going to the effort of expanding your gastroparesis knowledge can foster a sense of care and commitment for the person diagnosed. It can also clear up any questions, concerns, or misconceptions you have about the condition. This website, as well as many others, offers free information and support on gastroparesis. If you are unsure about the accuracy or credibility of an information source, then raise this with your doctor.
- Be wary of offering advice. It is not uncommon for people diagnosed with gastroparesis and other gastrointestinal conditions to be swamped with advice and recommendations. Although it is usually well-intentioned, receiving unsolicited treatment advice can be frustrating.
Taking care of yourself
Having someone close to you experience gastroparesis can take an emotional toll on you, especially if you are setting your own feelings and needs aside to help the person. Remember to ‘check in’ on your own emotional health regularly. Chronic emotional distress can develop into a more serious mental health issue if left unnoticed. Don’t feel guilty about reaching out for your own support, whether it is to friends/family/partners, or a mental health professional.