People living with a chronic condition, such as epilepsy, tend to be treated by others as “different”. This can be aggravating, to say the least! Our loved ones living with epilepsy are the same as any other person, but we should give them extra support. Support doesn’t always mean listening to a problem and finding a solution. Your concern, presence and validation is sometimes all they’re looking for. If someone has chosen to share their condition with you, it means they trust you, and your words and actions can be a very powerful tool in determining how the person feels. Seizures can’t always be cured but they can be prevented and reduced to a great extent. Here are some ways you can show your support towards anyone who lives with epilepsy.
Listen to them
Before you say anything, listen to what they have to say – that is the best form of support you can show. Listen without any distractions like playing with your phone or thinking about other things. Sometimes, all they need is to vent about having a bad day and a person to listen to them. Make communication a priority, and let them know that you’re available anytime they need to talk or need help. Make them feel comfortable to talk to you about their seizures or anything else that they might be going through. However, don’t make every conversation with them about epilepsy. Remember that they’re still the same person with the same likes and interests. Engage with them on those subjects instead of making them feel like their whole life revolves around epilepsy.
Learn more about the condition
Taking the time out to learn what you can do in case they have a seizure will put both of you at ease and make them feel truly supported and cared for. By taking their medications regularly, the occurrence of seizures can be kept at bay. Show your support by inquiring with your loved one about their medication and occasionally reminding them about it. Don’t overdo this though as they could feel incapable of looking after themselves. Some people might be photosensitive, so try to avoid going to places that have strobe lights or watching movies with flashing lights. If they can’t visit a movie theatre, spend time watching movies with them at home. They will not feel lonely or abandoned.
Ask what you can do to help them. You can go with them to appointments if they need someone to accompany them. If needed, you can also help by providing a description of the seizures to their doctors, for better treatment. People with epilepsy are sometimes not allowed to drive which can cause a major hindrance. If this is the case, offer your assistance in driving them to grocery stores, for other essential items or other places. If they cannot make it, offer to run errands for them.
Keep in touch
Check in with the person after they have had a seizure. This will make them feel like you truly care for their wellbeing. If you feel like they’ve been spending too much time at home alone, take them out for a cup of coffee or bring them food. Try and get them to join support groups for epilepsy. They need to know that they are not alone, and talking to other people living with epilepsy will help them to cope with their condition and manage it better. Make plans with your loved one. Sometimes, a fun evening or exciting event gives them a sense of purpose and something to look forward to. Encourage them to take part in sports that are safe for them like walking, jogging, tennis, basketball and golf. Exercise can help improve not just the physical health but also mental health of the person. Join them on activities like swimming that might pose a risk in case they have a seizure.
If they’ve shared a recent traumatic experience of a seizure with you, they will feel very vulnerable. Give them a hug, this will provide them a meaningful physical touch that reinforces the emotional support that you’ve provided them. If the person lives alone, think about getting them a pet. In this case a seizure alert dog is your best option. Another great option for people living alone is a seizure monitoring device. The Smartwatch Inspyre by SmartMonitor detects repetitive shaking motion and sends alerts to family and care providers. If they’ve designated you as an emergency contact, you will receive an alert if they have a seizure. Knowing that they’re never alone is the biggest support that they can receive. Also read our blog on what to do if someone is having a seizure so that you know what to do in case they have a seizure when you’re with them.