Tips for Caregivers
Migraine disease not only affects the 37 million Migraineurs who deal with it, but their family, friends and colleagues. Migraine is the 12th most disabling neurologic condition in the United States, and can at times leave a person feeling isolated and frustrated. Caring for a Migraineur can be just as exhausting and overwhelming, but mutual kindness, understanding, and compassion may make things a bit easier.
Personally, I believe an extremely important detail in caring for someone with Migraine disease is the ability to listen. Being able to really hear what a Migraineuris saying is vital - If you ask a Migraineur how they are feeling, be sure to listen to their answer. If they are in the middle of a bad pain cycle, ask them if there is anything they need help with; for example house work or errands. Just letting a Migraineur know you are there to offer support can be extremely important, as well.
It's beneficial for a caregiver to learn everything they can about Migraine disease. It is a genetic neurological disease that is as real as diabetes, or any other serious health condition. A Migraine not only affects our heads, but our entire body. Vomiting, nausea, dizziness, exceptional moodiness and sometimes paralysis - can all be part of a Migraine.
It's important to understand any needs Migraineurs may have based on their individual symptoms. For example, low lights for photophobia, quiet if they are phono phobic, or items that help with nausea (saltines and candied ginger to name a few). If they are having problems with work, find out all you can about the Family Medical Leave Act and American with Disabilities Act. Having someone in our corner can make all the difference in the workplace and doctors office. Find a Migraine and headache disorder support group to join where you will be able to interact with other Migraineurs and caregivers, share tips and experiences.
Try to attend a doctor's appointment with your Migraineur. If you are not clear on something the doctor says by all means ask questions until you are comfortable with the information you are getting. Watch what happens in a doctor's office when a Migraineurs is accompanied by a caregiver, spouse or significant other. It's almost as if some doctors (not all) validate the disease because someone else is there to confirm how bad (or good) the Migraines are - "oh, his Migraines must be really bad if he is bringing you along."
Self-care is, of course, equally important for caregivers. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, not skipping meals, and not overtaxing yourself. Maintaining emotional stability is instrumental to having a good caregiver/patient relationship. Having a hobby and keeping up with friends are good ways to get out of the house and practice self-care. Make sure your caregiver goals are realistic. Putting too much pressure on yourself is not good for you or the Migraineur. A well-educated caregiver will be a better advocate and friend, which will benefit both of you.
As a Migraineur or a caregiver, do you have additional tips to share with the community? Please post them in the comments.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?