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CHAPTER 4









                THE IMPACT ON FAMILIES






                  diagnosis of a chronic condition, like kidney failure, affects not only the person diagnosed but
                  also the family. Families can find themselves thrust into a new, unexpected and often unprepared
                  for role: that of carer. What level of care will be required will differ from individual to individual.
                  For some it will be minimal, for others it will be significant. Either way it will impact on family
        Alife. One carer put it this way; “Every carer’s story is different but the experiences can be
        similar.”


        DISRUPTION TO THE                                                             Often their fears and
        RHYTHM AND                                                                    worries   are    kept    to
        ROUTINE OF FAMILY LIFE                                                        themselves out of fear they
                                                                                      will further ‘upset’ the
           Every family has a particular
                                                                                      person diagnosed or further
        routine when it comes to the more
                                                                                      disrupt the family structure.
        common illnesses experienced on a
                                                                                      Family members either do
        regular basis (e.g. colds, flu). People
                                                                                      not know what to say, or
        adopt roles such as carer, helper or
                                                                                      feel they cannot say what
        provider. As these illnesses are of
                                                                                      they feel. Rather than
        short duration the impact on family
                                                                                      express their concerns or
        life is minimal. Not so when the
                                                                                      worries, a silence descends
        illness is chronic. It may introduce
                                                                                      resulting in communication
        significant and long-lasting changes
                                                                                      becoming more problematic
        to family life.
                                                                                      and difficult.
           Hospital     appointments       or
        admissions, frequent visits to the
        pharmacy, increase in medication and                                          THE INITIAL SHOCK
        changes in diet all have to be                                                OF DIAGNOSIS
        factored in to the family routine. If                                           With diagnosis and the
        the person diagnosed can no longer work due to        shift for some into the role of carer, the realisation
        illness, it may involve a change in family roles with  gradually dawns that life is never going to be the
        the husband/wife or partner having to find            same again. Plans and dreams, hopes for the future
        employment. Children may find themselves taking       may now look different. At this initial stage support
        on additional roles within the family, roles not      and help may come from many quarters but as the
        anticipated or expected.                              caring or supportive role continues or increases, the
                                                              level of support experienced may diminish.
        BREAKDOWN IN COMMUNICATION                               Stress levels can be very high at this initial stage

           Following diagnosis communication can be           with the predominant emotions experienced of;
        the first thing to be affected. Family members may    fear, shock, anger, loss and anxiety. Family
        find themselves inhibited in what they can say.       members often find they put their lives on hold in

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