Social Services - A Message from our Social Worker Melanie Amin

Managing the Stress of Chronic Illness

As people continue to live longer, it’s hard to find a family not affected by chronic illness. While a person might fully recover from a sudden illness in a few days, chronic illness lingers – creating lasting stress and potential family conflict.

Cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, are just some of the many medical conditions requiring patients and their families to adjust to medical, emotional and caregiving challenges. 

Understanding as much as possible about a new diagnosis, with the help of a medical team and family advocates, is a good first step. Doctors and family members may have good ideas about resources to access effective medical treatments, community resources and social support. People facing chronic illness are often worried about challenges to their independence. The question, “Will I be able to take care of myself?” is a difficult question for newly diagnosed people and their close family members to answer honestly. Chronic illnesses affect people differently, making them challenging situations to predict and plan for.

A person’s natural desire to remain independent when faced with physical changes may suddenly be questioned by concerned family members. Yet to encourage a person’s sense of hope about the future, it is critical to find creative ways to maintain as much independence as possible. Maybe that might involve family members sharing turns transporting a chronically-ill relative to a favorite club or other cherished activity. Maintaining familiar routines can be a source of joy when faced with the uncertainty of a new illness.

Identifying caregiver burnout is also an important area to address. While a spouse may say they are able to care for their partner round-the-clock, all people need respite from caregiving to stay emotionally and physically well. Keeping family communication open about ways to share caregiving responsibilities is important. Also exploring hiring in-home care may be an important part of keeping every family member healthy.

The stress of a new diagnosis can feel overwhelming. If you, or a friend, have questions about how to cope better with chronic illness, or have questions about available community resources, please contact Melanie Amin, LCSW, Senior Social Work Coordinator at (847) 588-8420.

Dinner & Discussion Group: Grief, Loss & Change

While this group will support people coping with grief and bereavement, we welcome participants managing other types of loss.  The program is open to Niles residents only and will meet the fourth Wednesday of each month.  Attendees have the option to purchase an early dinner and there is no cost to attend the program without the meal.  Registration is required. 
Please contact Melanie at 847-588-8420 for more information and to register.
Wednesday, May 23 •  4:00pm
Wednesday, June 27 • 4:00pm