6 Areas of Life affected by Illness or Disability

There are 6 distinct life areas that must be addressed when caring for a person with a disability or chronic illness:

  1. Lifestyle

    This includes diet changes, skills like organizing and planning, and also how we adjust our values and priorities to accommodate illness, disabilities, physical limitations, or crisis.

  2. Family

    The symptoms and experience of a person’s illness or disability are not limited to him or her. Siblings are significantly affected. Marriages are challenged. Financial stress can impact the entire family. Schedules, routines, holidays, and family plans or traditions may be disrupted.

  3. School and Work

    When caring for a child, your relationship with their school can depend on your child’s symptoms, experience, school personnel. Schools may need help to understand the way an illness or disability can affect social development, cognitive abilities, and learning.

    In the workplace it can be challenging to advocate for your family’s needs, and find a way to succeed and thrive in a system that may not be designed to support your circumstances.

  4. Personal

    When you are caring for someone with an illness or disability you must adjust your goals and expectations. Your professional life may be impacted, your relationships may change, and your vision of your family’s future may be altered. You may question spiritual values that once brought you comfort and peace. In addition, the stress of caregiving can negatively impact your own emotional and physical health.

  5. Community

    It is important to find a support system of people who share and understand your experience. It is also necessary for communities to become more compassionate and helpful to families of people struggling with chronic illnesses, and emotional, intellectual or physical disabilities.

  6. Health and Wellness

    Your health, and the health of your family, can be affected by the circumstances of caring for someone with an illness or disability. In addition, making health-care decisions that may go against the values of your doctor, family, or culture can cause significant stress. People in this situation may feel isolated, and exhausted from defending their decisions to others. They need supportive, collaborative relationships with physicians, medical professionals, and care providers. It is essential to find doctors willing to practice collaborative medicine – a strength-based, person-centered model of health care that considers diet, lifestyle choices, stress, relationships, resources, environment and personal goals in treatment plans.