Fibromyalgia is a highly common chronic condition that affects nearly 10 million people throughout the United States.
If you have a family member or loved one who struggles with fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to know the best way to support them. Do you pretend like nothing’s wrong? Do you give them extra assistance and attention to make sure they know you’re there to help?
If you’re feeling lost, keep reading. Listed below are six tips that will help you give your family member or loved one who is struggling with fibromyalgia the help they need.
1. Do Your Research
If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they’re probably feeling scared and overwhelmed.
One of the best ways you can support them as they come to terms with their diagnosis is to do some research and learn more about it.
If you’re informed, you’ll be able to understand where they’re coming from. You’ll also be able to help them sift through the information out there to figure out what’s relevant to their situation.
2. Be a Good Listener
Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be incredibly frustrating, and your loved one will probably want to spend some time venting about their struggles.
Be willing to listen without judgment and let them work through things on their own. You don’t have to have some great advice geared up and ready to go — in fact, in many cases, people don’t actually want advice, they just want to know that someone understands them.
3. Buy Them Some Lifestyle Aids
If you want to do something nice for someone with fibromyalgia, they might appreciate some lifestyle aids that are designed to make life easier for people with chronic pain or mobility issues.
Some products they might enjoy include:
- Shoe horns, button hooks, and other tools that make getting dressed easier
- A massage cane that makes it easy to reach trigger points anywhere on the body
- Lacrosse ball or foam rollers to massage large muscle groups
- A shower bench to make bathing less taxing
- A reach extender to help them avoid straining the back or shoulders when taking objects down from high shelves
4. Be Flexible
One of the greatest challenges that come with living with fibromyalgia is the fact that symptoms can get worse very quickly and without warning.
Even if your friend or family member woke up feeling fine, by the time your lunch date rolls around, they could be dealing with a great amount of pain and need to cancel.
Be flexible if your loved one needs to cancel plans at the last minute. Let them know that you understand and don’t hold it against them. Encourage them to take all the time they need to recover and make sure they know you’re ready to reschedule when they are.
5. Encourage Them to Exercise
Physical activity has been shown to ease the pain and stiffness that often comes with fibromyalgia. Of course, finding the motivation to get some exercise in when you’re hurting is easier said than done.
Try to encourage your loved one to do some light physical activity if they’re having a hard day. Not only will it ease their symptoms, but it can also improve their mood and help them to have a more positive attitude.
Some of the best forms of exercise for people with fibromyalgia include:
- Water aerobics
- Light resistance training
Offer to attend a class with them, or plan to take a leisurely walk or bike ride outside.
6. Support Yourself, Too
Finally, if you want to support your family member or loved one struggling with fibromyalgia, it’s important to also support yourself. This is especially true if you’re their primary caregiver.
It’s great to provide assistance to people in need, but you also need to take time to do things you enjoy.
It’s easy to feel guilty about taking breaks to relax and prioritize your physical and mental health, especially when someone else is dealing with a painful condition. But, remember that taking time for yourself allows you to better support your loved one when they need you most.