Caring for someone with IBD

How to support someone with IBD

Supporting someone with IBD can be both challenging and rewarding. Find out how you can support your loved one to take ownership of their condition.

After your child or loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic condition like IBD, both you and they may feel a range of emotions along the journey to ownership. Denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, distress, guilt and shame are all common reactions that even a carer can go through too. It can feel like a rollercoaster when you or the loved one you are caring for accepts their condition one day and is sad about it the next. At times, you may also feel a sense of helplessness, or question the support you are giving the person with IBD.

People with IBD need to take good care of themselves, because their IBD can get worse if they don’t. As they start to look after themselves, people with IBD may begin to see how staying healthy and sticking to treatment helps their symptoms. They may come to accept that while there are many things about their condition they can’t control, they can choose to eat well, take their medications as prescribed and surround themselves with a support network that includes you. Unlike adults, children may not experience this until they are old enough to understand actions and consequences.

Encouraging your loved one to take ownership of their life means you are helping them to make informed and shared decisions about their health as well. Ownership develops through self-discovery. Your loved one starts to see how their treatment plan works towards keeping them well. They realise there are things they can do that can affect how they are doing, both good and bad. For some, this may be a gradual process, others have a moment of realisation, where they may even change the way they view themselves and their place in the world.

What are the rights and responsibilities of a carer? A guide for carers is available, produced by the Ministry of Social Development.
Supporting children through school. Crohn's & Colitis New Zealand has information for teachers of children with IBD.