Chronic health disorders like Schizophrenia affect not only the patient, but also the life of their care givers. Though Schizophrenia can be treated to improve the patient's quality of life, it cannot be cured. Hence, it falls on the care giver's shoulders to watch out for symptoms of this disease and manage the person and their disorder. What should one do in such a case?
- Educate yourself: The first step towards looking after a person with Schizophrenia is to know the symptoms of the disease. With treatment, these may become better or worse so if you notice any change in the symptoms, bring it to your doctors notice at once.
- Reduce stress: Your goal as a schizophrenic person's caregiver should be to give them a calm environment and boost their confidence. Stress has a negative effect on all people and in schizophrenics this effect is much worse. Hence reduce stress and create an effective support system and structured environment for your loved one.
- Do not ask the patient to change 'his reality': When a person is suffering from schizophrenia, you should not force them to change their behaviour and reality, in order to adjust in the society at large. You should rather support the patient to accept his reality, to be at peace, since there is a very strong genetic component involved in its aetiology. Also, it is important that, both the patient and the family in particular should opt for regular counselling sessions.
- Regular exercise: Schizophrenics need not be cooped up in the house all day. Encourage the patient to go outside and exercise regularly. Exercise reduces stress and produces endorphins that make a person feel energized and happy. This should be complemented by a healthy diet. Minimize the amount of carbs and sugar intake and increase the amounts of omega 3 fatty acids in the patient's diet.
- Join a support group: Joining a support group is a very good idea for both the patient and the caregiver. For the patient, this provides a form of social interaction and for the caregiver is a platform to meet people with similar first hand experiences
- Encourage treatment: Convincing a Schizophrenic person to seek treatment can be quite challenging. Suggest treating symptoms of the disorder such as insomnia problem and lack of energy rather than the disease itself to make the patient feel more comfortable. Give the patient options to choose from to make them feel more in control of the situation.
- Monitor medication: Once the treatment has started, ensure that the patient sticks to the prescription. Maintain a regular schedule by using weekly pill boxes and alarms. Also keep an eye on the possible side effects of these medicines. Ensure that your doctor has a complete list of medicines that the patient takes so that there is no chance of medicines interacting negatively with each other.
- Prepare for crisis situations: It is always a good idea to have an emergency plan in place. Keep emergency contact details of all the doctors and therapists at hand along with the address and phone number of the closest hospital. Share your situation with friends and family so that in case of an emergency, they can be relied upon to take care of your children and other dependants.
If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a specilized psychiatrist and ask a free question.