Caring For a Crohn’s Patient

Highlights

  1. Crohn’s disease can involve diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding.
  2. People with Crohn’s disease often experience emotional issues due to the nature of the disease.
  3. You can help your loved one who has Crohn’s disease by being there for them emotionally and physically.

When someone you love has Crohn's disease, it can be difficult to know what to do. Crohn's may make your loved one constantly run to the bathroom. Diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and rectal bleeding are common symptoms. Accidents are commonplace. They may withdraw, become depressed, or isolate themselves.

You can help your loved one by providing support in a number of ways:

Medical Support

People who have Crohn's disease often have a chronic need for medications, doctors, and procedures. As their support person, you can help them stay organized. One of the primary causes of Crohn's flare-ups is missing medications or taking medications inappropriately. It may be helpful to work with your loved one to organize their pills in a pill box and remind them to get prescriptions refilled on time.

If your loved one wants, you can also go to the doctor with them and listen to what advice the doctor gives. You can help by keeping track of symptoms such as bowel movement frequency, consistency, and pain, and reporting these observations to your doctor. You may notice things about the disease that your loved one doesn’t, which can help your loved one and their doctor make better choices.

You can also help your loved one by helping them keep a food diary. It often helps to note all the foods they eat and try to figure out which ones trigger flare-ups.

Most people with Crohn's disease need surgery at some point, and you may need to support your loved one through this event.

Physical Support

People who have Crohn’s disease need a great deal of support physically as well. One great way to help your loved one is to always know the location of the nearest bathroom. Help them plan trips and parties with the nearest bathroom in mind and always think ahead about how they can get to it in an emergency.

Keep an emergency kit handy in your car trunk or bag at all times. Moist wipes, a change of underwear, and deodorant will help them be ready for sudden flare-ups. This will give your loved one a sense of confidence when leaving the house, as they’ll be able to count on you if an emergency arises.

Your loved one may need help applying prescription ointment to their anus and buttocks. Often, this tissue becomes inflamed and breaks down due to constant diarrhea. Sometimes, applying a barrier cream is the only measure that can provide comfort. Your assistance will ensure that the entire area is covered.

Emotional Support

Crohn's disease can be emotional. Despite the popular belief that stress and anxiety don’t cause Crohn's disease, there’s conflicting data as to whether or not stress causes flare-ups. Helping your loved one control their stress is a great way to help them cope with the disease. 

People who have Crohn’s disease are also prone to depression, anxiety, and isolation. It can be stressful to feel as if you may have an accident in public. This causes many people with Crohn's disease to stay at home and become depressed. If you notice your loved one is always sad or talks about harming themselves, notify your doctor right away. These are signs of clinical depression and may need to be treated with medication. 

To help your loved one deal with the anxiety that comes with this disease, be present and listen. Don’t dismiss any fears they may have, and try to understand how they feel. Encourage them to seek support groups for people who have Crohn’s disease and possibly a therapist.

You can help your loved one manage Crohn’s disease and help control and prevent flare-ups by:

  • helping them at doctor’s visits if they’re comfortable with you being there
  • taking notes about flare-ups and possible triggers
  • being prepared for flare-ups
  • providing emotional support

These steps can help improve their quality of life and yours.