Caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS can be an emotional, physical and financial burden. Not only will you need to worry about administering medication and monitoring progress, but you also need to be careful about not contracting the virus yourself. You’ll want to make life as comfortable and positive as possible for your loved one, however, so here are a few tips.
Care for a Loved One with AIDS: Ask Lots of Questions
One of the best things that a caregiver can do is go to the doctor with their loved one. Find out as much as you can about HIV, AIDS and the medications prescribed; know the side effects, the symptoms of problems and the things that you can do to help. Your loved one’s physician will be more than happy to explain things to you that you don’t understand, and it will keep your loved one from having to relay information that might get garbled along the way. You can also ask for recommendations for literature, books and resources with which you can become more familiar with the disease.
Care for a Loved One with AIDS: Facilitate Honesty
Your loved one has probably come to terms with his or her illness, which means that you should do the same. Don’t waste time skirting the issue or pretending that nothing is wrong; instead, facilitate openness and honesty. If you can’t talk about things pertaining to AIDS or HIV, then you really aren’t helping, and your loved one will wonder how to act around you. If you are involved in a romantic relationship with this person, find new ways to be intimate without exposing yourself to the virus.
Care for a Loved One with AIDS: Learn Preventative Measures
Most people who are constantly worried about contracting AIDS from someone else are really just not informed about what causes AIDS to spread. Rather than avoiding any contact with your loved one, research the ways in which the virus is transmitted. If your loved one gets a cut or vomits, have a box of surgical gloves on hand to protect yourself. If you are both careful to make sure that bodily fluids cannot spread, you won’t have to worry about contracting AIDS.
Care for a Loved One with AIDS: Know the Side Effects of Medications
Providing care for someone with a disease like AIDS means you’ll be dealing with lots of different types of medications. Not only will your loved one be on AIDS-specific drugs, but he or she will also be more susceptible to infections and other illnesses, which will require medications of their own. If you are caring for this individual, you will need to know what side effects to expect and which foods or beverages can react negatively with them. Be as familiar with the medications as your loved one and call a pharmacsist or a doctor if you have any questions about a specific drug.
Care for a Loved One with AIDS: Attend Support Groups
Most cities and towns have plenty of support groups for AIDS patients and caregivers, significant others and family members are welcome to attend. Go with your loved one to show your support and to listen to what the other members have to say. This isn’t necessarily therapy, but more of a chance for community. It helps establish the knowledge that your loved one isn’t alone in his or her experiences and that there are other people who understand what it’s like. This can also be beneficial for the caregiver because he or she can use the support group to overcome feelings of isolation.