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Impact of Ill Health on Families and Children.

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Introduction

Impact of Ill Health on Families and Children Ill health can cause stress within the family, especially if it is chronic or life threatening. But even short-term illnesses can cause problems in the family. "The effect of illness on the child and family will depend on: * Whether the child s at school or early years settings * The child's age and state of development * The parent/s work, whether they would need to take time off to care for the child * The illness itself, whether it is acute, chronic or life threatening * The type of treatment * Previous experiences of illness * How the family cope with the illness and the support they receive * How often the child is away from school or early years settings - this may affect their development * Whether the child needs hospitalisation." (Yvonne Nolan: BTEC National Early Years 2002). Children who are unwell, in whatever setting need extra care and attention; they will need as much reassurance as possible and more attention than usual. Sometimes when children are unwell, they "may regress to an earlier developmental stage." (Penny Tassoni: Child Care and Education). They often become clingy and have a short attention span. Most children will also sleep and rest more when they are ill. Children's needs can change when they become unwell. This can be a temporary change, as in an acute illness, or may be a profound change, as in a long-term or life-threatening illness. When a child is ill they still need the security of a routine to continue. Drinks, meals and rest times should where possible, continue at the usual times. If the parent cannot care for the child, then a familiar adult needs to be around and any comfort objects to help the child feel secure. Most children who are unwell will be cared for at home because this is a place that can provide them with security, comforts and attention, which they require. ...read more.

Middle

Children often play with toys and read books, which are suitable for a younger age group when unwell, and the carer needs to play appropriate activities throughout the day such as drawing and colouring, which can be provided for children of any age. Books are good as children often have favourite stories that they like to have and read to them. Play dough can help children express their feelings and frustrations and keep the child stimulated creatively by making different shapes, houses, objects, animals etc. "Friendships can also suffer if a child has frequent prolonged absences from nursery or school." (Sandy Green: BTEC National Early Years 2002). It is important that friends should be encouraged to visit the child, if possible, letter writing, e-mailing or sending pictures to each other cab also help sustain friendships. Even short- term illness can cause disruption to family life and the normal daily routine of the household and it can be a very worrying time for parents. If the child's parents work, alternative care may need to be arranged. Chronic, long-term and life-threatening illnesses may cause the family to make adaptations to many aspects of their lives to meet the needs of the child and other family members. Parents may go through grieving pr "A child's illness may therefore affect the family in the following ways: * Physically: it can be physically demanding to care for an unwell child, especially if any lifting is required. Sleep deprivation can also lead to exhaustion. * Emotionally: there is always a multitude of emotions, such as fear, uncertainty, anxiety, insecurity, guilt, depression, which arise when a child is ill, especially when there is long-term illness, or if hospitalisation is required. * Financially: if a parent has to give up work either temporarily or permanently, it can have huge financial implications n the family. If a child is in hospital, this can also cause more expense. ...read more.

Conclusion

As with the problems and issues of the individual, those of the family are often interrelated and thus may be more complex in reality than presented here. In the family, isolation and loneliness occur when other family members and friends do not come, or when they come and do not help or do not seem to have an appreciation for what everyone is going through. Some visitors expect to be entertained as if nothing of import was happening; others want the patient and family to be cheerful or "positive." In either case, the visit is not particularly helpful. Families that were never very social or involved in church or community activities tend to become less social and may receive little social support. Especially in the later stages of disease, the overwhelming physical and emotional demands of giving care means that there is little opportunity or inclination for social contact. The amount of work and the stress of giving care in later stages are hard to exaggerate. No matter how many people are around, in the later stages, the primary caregiver is likely to feel isolated. Families most prone to depression include those in which: there is unresolved grief or conflict, one or both spouses are alcoholic, or when there is a history of depression. Many of the symptoms of depression are similar to characteristics of people who are caring for a person with terminal illness. These include deep sadness, fatigue, and inability to experience pleasure, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, and difficulty sleeping. These characteristics also are manifestations of grief. Caring for a loved one with terminal illness is physically, emotionally, and spiritually tiring well beyond what many people expect, especially when one family member has total responsibility for the care. There is often a cyclical nature to the fatigue, beginning with physical labour and sleep loss. The labour is harder and sleep more difficult because of associated grief and anxiety. Isolation is a common complicating factor. The caregiver's schedule of leisure activities and other work and is also altered, thus further compromising her or his energy and abilities. ...read more.

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