Effective dialogue between patients and caregivers key to managing chronic diseases

17 Oct 2023 11:25am
Caregivers and support networks play vital role in helping chronic illness patients manage their conditions (inset)  Dr Nurul Nadia Ismail  - FILE PIX
Caregivers and support networks play vital role in helping chronic illness patients manage their conditions (inset) Dr Nurul Nadia Ismail - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Patients with chronic illnesses face emotional and cognitive hurdles that can make it difficult to manage their conditions. Caregivers and support networks play a vital role in providing accurate information, emotional support, and transparent communication.

Psychiatrist and fellow in Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Dr Nurul Nadia Ismail said that while some diabetes patients excel in managing their condition, others find it challenging to follow treatment guidelines consistently.

These patients may skip medical appointments or neglect dietary advice.

"Such lapses can result in regular hospitalisations due to unstable blood sugar levels, leading to conditions like hyperglycemia or even hypoglycemia.

"Consequently, medical units often redirect these patients to psychiatric units to identify potential psychological obstacles to their recovery," Dr Nurul told Sinar Daily recently.

She highlighted the emotional turmoil and misconceptions commonly linked with diabetes.

"Patients might fear a perceived loss of autonomy, thinking that diabetes restricts their regular functionalities.

"Such apprehensions can negatively impact treatment compliance," she said.

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Timely counseling and assistance are essential for patients facing these challenges.

"Acknowledging patients' anxieties and determining their psychological support requirements can enhance their disease management, rebuild their confidence, and reduce hospitalisations.

"In certain scenarios, doctors might prescribe antidepressants to combat symptoms of depression or anxiety," she said.

With continuous support and counseling, these strategies empower patients to manage their health, adhere to advised treatments, and enrich their overall wellness.

Dr Nurul also stressed the importance of supportive networks for patients with chronic physical illnesses.

"These supporters are indispensable in aiding patients to embrace and adapt to their altered lives post-diagnosis.

"Caregivers, family, and friends can play an important role in ensuring that patients access correct information about their condition, especially given the prevalence of misleading online content. "Understanding the illness is essential for caregivers to offer effective support.

"Emotional backing is equally crucial. Patients, feeling vulnerable, might consider themselves burdensome to their families, fearing potential abandonment.

"In such circumstances, the steadfast empathy and understanding from caregivers and family members stand as a pillar of strength for patients.

"Effective dialogue, like spouses discussing diabetes management, is pivotal for a patient's health.

"These conversations facilitate a more cooperative strategy to handle chronic diseases," she added.

Dr Nurul also recommended that patients and their allies collaborate with relevant associations, such as those focusing on diabetes or kidney diseases.

"Interacting with these organisations offers invaluable resources and connection opportunities, helping patients share their emotional load and seek guidance, which, in turn, fortifies their disease management capabilities," she said.