Caring For a Crohn’s Patient

Watching someone you love suffer is never easy, and when someone you love has Crohn's disease, it’s often difficult to know what to do. Crohn's may make them constantly run to the bathroom, as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and rectal bleeding are common symptoms. Accidents are commonplace and feared. Your loved one may not be able to look you in the eye after an emergency or even have the nerve to ask you for help. They may become withdrawn, depressed, and isolated as they retreat from the world to deal with Crohn's disease on their own. 

As a caretaker, you can help your loved one by providing support in a number of ways:

Medical Support

Crohn's sufferers will have to endure a great deal of medications, doctors, and procedures. As their support person, you can help them organize themselves. One of the primary causes of Crohn's flare-ups is missing medications or taking medications inappropriately. Help your loved one organize their pills in a pill box and reminding them to get prescriptions refilled in a timely manner. 

You can also go to doctor appointments with them and listen to what advice the doctor gives. You can assist your loved one's medical care by keeping track of symptoms such as bowel movement frequency, consistency, and pain, and reporting those observations to the doctor. You may notice things about the disease that your loved one does not, which can help the doctor make better choices medically. Most Crohn's patients need surgery at some point, and you may need to support your loved one through that event.  

Physical Support

Crohn's sufferers need a great deal of support physically. One great way to help your loved one is to always know where the nearest bathroom is. Help them plan trips and parties with the nearest bathroom in mind, and always think ahead as to how they could get to it in an emergency. 

Keep an emergency kit handy in the car trunk or your purse at all times. Moist wipes, a change of underwear, and deodorant will help them be ready for sudden flares. This will give your loved one a sense of confidence when venturing out of the house, as they’ll know they can count on you in the case of an emergency. 

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

Emotional Support

Crohn's disease and emotions are inextricably tied together. Despite popular belief, stress and anxiety doesn’t cause Crohn's disease, but there’s conflicting data as to whether or not stress is actually a cause of Crohn’s flare-ups. Helping your loved one control their stress is a great way to help them cope with their disease. 

Unfortunately, Crohn's sufferers are also prone to depression, anxiety, and isolation. It’s embarrassing to feel as if your body will betray you and cause an accident in public. This causes many Crohn's patients to stay at home and become increasingly depressed. If you notice your loved one has a persistent sad mood or talks about harming themselves, you should notify a 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 the disease, be present and listen. Don’t brush off their fears; try to understand how they feel. Encourage them to seek out support groups for Crohn's sufferers and possibly a therapist. Not only will it help prevent flare-ups, but it will also help improve their quality of life.