- An overview of the aspects that affect the AIDS patient and their families. This includes financial, mental, social, and emotional factors.
- Suggestions on how to improve family dynamics between the patients and their immediate family and friends.
AIDS negatively affects not only the person suffering from it but also their families. It affects the relationships of the patients' family members. One major effect of HIV on families is the stress on children. Children often feel stress just knowing one of their family members has an illness. The family member who suffers from AIDS not only do so physically but emotionally as well.
People with AIDS often lose or quit their jobs because of the sickness. This is an incredibly difficult situation given the mix of low income and increased health-care costs. It is much harder for the patients’ families to meet their basic needs. Worse, if there are children in the family, their needs might be sidestepped in favor the the sick family member’s needs. Thus there is pressure to supplement the family income. According to the United Nations, the children feel like they need to get a job and help with the expenses, given they are of age to start working. Some of these young adults feel they must take the role of the parent by getting a job. This obviously takes a toll on everyone in the family.
Families of AIDS patients often feel isolated; they often feel distant from each other. Some families isolate themselves from the patient and, worse, not contact or see that person. Some families feel guilty and angry because they haven’t accepted the fact that a member of their family is suffering from a highly stigmatized disease. Thus it is important to build an open communication for families of AIDs patients. Talking to each other helps ease the tension and builds support among each other.
Often times, mental health for AIDS patients take a back seat in favor of dealing with the physical symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
Commonly, these symptoms are often left undiscussed and untreated. That is why it is best for people not to neglect an AIDS patient's mental health. It is helpful for them to get help from a mental health professional to ensure they are, at the very least, stable and healthy - a very important aspect for people suffering from a serious illness like AIDS.
The Bottom Line
Unstructured care is what usually makes the whole situation worse. Everyone is affected in the family of an HIV patient. The quality of life and family relationships are challenged because of the daily repercussions of the disease. However, there is hope and care for both patient and family. It can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to help and reach out to the family member who’s suffering from AIDS. Familial and social support have never been more important, that way people can share their emotions and support each other. Emotional support helps ease the existing physical, mental, and emotional burden of a serious disease.
AIDS and families
AIDS is a difficult condition to deal with. Life gets complicated and so do the people and families involved. One way of looking at it is in terms of the physical symptoms that affect the health of the patient. He/she tends to lose interest in day-to-day chores, including taking care of himself and life responsibilities in general.
The other aspect that intensely affects them is emotional coping. A person suffering from AIDS tends to feel emotionally drained. They experience a drastic change in lifestyle and have to visit the hospital countless times for follow ups and treatments. Not only does it affect them, but it also affects their immediate families. This could have a positive or a negative repercussion. On the bright side, the patient gains love and support from the family members. On the down side, many members fail to realize the way AIDS spreads and tend to cut themselves off. This viscous cycle is a testing phase for the person affected and those around them. Learning how to deal and manage AIDS is the most crucial aspect of the treatment. And like all difficult things, it takes time both for the patient and their families.
Dealing with family members
The big question is how to deal with it?
There are a number of coping mechanisms that are custom made for the patient and the families as suggested by medical centres. Aside from these, support groups and treatment cells can also help in spreading awareness and deciphering facts associated with AIDS. Whether it's physical, emotional, or group support, a patient needs all of them. This requires the family to be strong and resilient, accepting the fact that change and challenges will now be a constant for them. The best way to move forward is to keep a positive attitude, leaving all the sadness and grief behind and start looking for new ways to cope with the situation and the lifestyle change it requires.
It also sends out a clear message of bonding, love, and, selflessness among the family members. The challenge lies in breaking the barriers to interaction and communication, discussing and spreading knowledge on the know-hows of AIDS. Withdrawal from family and society is a common phenomenon. The family should see to it that they don’t withdraw at all. Tender care and support can help in designating duties among family members. By doing this, no one member will be burdened to help the patient out, and each one gets to share the responsibility. Those who retract and stay away from AIDS patients must be made to understand the situation. Have them enroll in counselling or get them involved in certain support groups that help spread good cause.