Wednesday, April 07, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Technology — and some forethought — can help patients share their news about a health crisis and rally the support of friends and family when it's needed most.
In difficult times, the help and encouragement from friends and family are important, but too many phone calls, e-mails or visits can be a burden. The April issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource offers tips on sharing news of a health crisis.
Set the pace: Patients should share information at a pace that's comfortable, without pressure or rush. Waiting until emotions are in check can make sharing easier, especially when talking with children.
Draw boundaries: Basic facts may be enough to share with acquaintances. With close friends and family, patients may want to share more details as well as the hopes and fears about treatment and recovery.
Be prepared for a variety of reactions: Everyone reacts differently. Some people may seem awkward or distant and not want to talk about the health concern. Others will express fears or sadness openly. Most people will be curious about treatment, next steps and recovery.
Designate a spokesperson to provide updates: A relative or friend may be willing to answer phone calls and e-mails and to keep others updated.
Take advantage of technology: Sharing information online or through regular e-mails is easy. A service such as CaringBridge (www.caringbridge.org) or CarePages (www.carepages.com) allows patients to inform friends and family through a personalized Web page. Family and friends can provide support via an online guestbook. Many hospital and clinics offer similar services. Social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, are options, too.
Accept help: Upon hearing serious health news, friends and family will want to help. Having a list of chores ready — shopping, cooking, running errands — makes it easier to take advantage of these offers.
Set limits: Patients may need to limit conversations or the number of guests when they aren't up to talking.
Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 800-876-8633, extension 9751, (toll-free) or visit the Mayo Clinic Bookstore.
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