For Caregivers of Hepatitis C Patients
Family and friends of someone with hepatitis C often become advocates, and hepatitis C warriors, fighting the battle of liver disease right alongside the patient.
Caregivers can often deal with a variety of issues that can lead to burn out if they’re not careful. Learn how you can help someone you love with hepatitis C while taking care of yourself and staying strong.
Protecting yourself from transmission
Be mindful of taking the proper precaution when helping dress wounds or cleaning up anything involving blood. Wear protective gloves and dress wounds with a bandage. Do not share razors, nail clippers, or personal hygiene items like toothpaste or toothbrushes.
Don’t be afraid to hug, kiss, or touch someone with hepatitis C. You can not get hepatitis C by casual contact, only through blood and open wound access.
Helping take care of the patient
Sometimes hepatitis C patients can experience depression, fatigue, and other side effects. If cirrhosis is present, the patient may experience times of swelling in the legs and abdomen, issues with diet, fatigue, and confusion. Typically, doctor visits and tests are frequent & ongoing for patients.
The level of care needed is different for each patient and their liver condition. Caregivers often need to accompany the patient to the doctor and sit in to hear what the doctor has to say.
To help the patient as well as yourself, make a list of questions to ask the doctor while you’re there. This can help you know how best to take care of the patient, what to look out for, and how to take care of yourself as well.
Ask the physician if a special diet is needed for the patient’s liver condition and if you need to consult a registered dietitian to develop a diet plan that is best for the patient’s condition. This way you’ll know best how to help with meals.
Make sure you understand how the patient is supposed to take all medications. Ask what the patient needs to avoid with hepatitis C and their liver condition and what is alright to do.
Patient support groups
There are many online (as well as physical) support groups for hepatitis C and liver disease. Find a patient support group that connects the patient to others who share the same condition and understand. Connecting with others who are going through the same journey are very helpful.
Make sure to schedule time for yourself. Ask a family member or friend if it’s needed to come over and help while you take a day or evening out. Don’t feel guilty about taking a rest break, it’s necessary to take care of yourself in order to re-energize and refresh so you can take better care of your loved one.
Caregivers can go through burn out physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and exercise. Take small breaks for fresh air and sunshine. Get outdoors, or get a change of scenery. Taking a nap or reading can often give a boost of mental refreshment.
Caregiver support groups
There are many caregiver support groups for hepatitis C, and liver disease as well. Support is just as important for the caregiver as it is for the patient. Connect with other caregivers who understand the experience and struggles of being a caregiver. Share ideas and ways to help yourself as well as the patient.
What tips do you have to help a caregiver or patient?
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