When someone you love is diagnosed with lupus, it affects both of you. Because Black women share a three to four times higher chance of having lupus, it will likely impact your relationships in some way—whether it’s your spouse, child, sibling, or a close friend.
Sometimes you don’t know what the day will hold. Your loved one may be fine one day and extremely fatigued another. While you may find this disease frustrating, just know that they do too, especially during a flare up. But we have four tips to help you support your person, relieve their strain, and strengthen your dynamic.
Research and Understand
Lupus can be a very difficult disease to comprehend because the symptoms can vary so much. So, the more you know about lupus, the better you can help your loved one. Ask them or their doctor to recommend reading material about the disease and flares, which can cause swelling, skin rashes, and pain while having an impact on mental health. Then keep the lines of communication open with each other—sharing isn’t always easy, but when you talk honestly, you can avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
Ask Them What They Need
We know you want to help your loved one, so if you’re not sure how to do that—why not ask them? It sounds simple, but a lot of times people assume they know what someone else needs, so they don’t actually ask. There can be a lot of variation with lupus, so one day they might need more help than others—and the only way you’ll know for sure is to ask. As you go through your day, ask if they’d like anything from the store or for you to pick up the kids. Just try not to assume they can’t do something, they might just surprise you.
Fight the Flare
Knowing that a flare can happen at any time, be prepared. Have a heating pad and/or hot Epsom bath salts on hand to ease the pain and help soothe a sore body. Stock up on anti-inflammatories to help reduce any inflammation they may be dealing with—and have a supply of any necessary prescription medications as well. Set up a cozy space for them, maybe in a dark room to help them relax and sleep. All of these things will allow your loved one the opportunity to rest, heat, medicate, and give their body the time it needs to heal and overcome the flare. You might also want to have some of their favorite movies or shows cued up on your go-to streaming service as a good distraction.
Help with Management
Regular exercise is a great way to stay fit while also reducing flare triggers like stress. Get moving together by taking an indoor fitness class, like yoga, cycling, or even a dance class! This way, they’re getting the benefits of exercise while limiting their exposure to sunlight and fluorescent and halogen lights. Also, with this diagnosis also comes a change in diet. So, see what foods are triggering to your loved one, research recipes together, and then get cooking using lupus-friendly ingredients that won’t cause inflammation. And finally, depending on your relationship, you and your loved one may consider attending a support group where other families are asking questions and sharing their stories—and you can too.