Helping Chronically Ill Patients Manage Their Fears

One of MyLymeDiseaseTreatment’s readers, Melanie Brown, shared a great article she wrote on the importance of quality nursing for chronically ill patients as she has spent much time researching and writing about this topic. I thought it would be useful for everyone to read. Thank you, Melanie, for your compassion and passion for helping those with chronic illnesses!


When it comes to helping chronically ill patients manage their condition, treatment options focus on the physical aspects of the problem and avoid the more uncomfortable questions. While it’s easier to stay mindful of physical symptoms, treatment complications and nutritional intake, addressing the emotional and psychological concerns and fears of the patient can be vital to the outcome.

For that reason, the relationship between a nurse and their patient plays a major role in all treatment plans, whether you realize the significance of your presence in your patient’s life or not. You have a much better opportunity than any other healthcare team member to educate, inform and help your patient deal with the current situation. Your patient’s quality of life and acceptance of what’s happening truly lies in your hands.

Dealing with Chronic Illness

Not all chronically ill patients struggle with life-threatening issues, but for those that do, ignoring the fears and concerns attached to a possibility of death only serves to heighten the anxiety, stress and fear. Pretending issues don’t exist actually lowers your patient’s ability to cope because it robs them of the peace they could find within themselves.

When you choose to listen to your patient’s concerns and acknowledge those fears are real and justified, you can help bring peace and love to a troubled soul. Caring for a chronically ill patient isn’t just about their physical comfort. It’s about helping them resolve their unease with what’s going on. It’s about helping patients find a new outlook and accepting the outcome whatever that might be.

Rebecca H. Lehto is an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s College of Nursing. She believes that the biggest hurdle in nursing those who are chronically ill is helping them to come to terms with the real-life impact of their disease. That impact often includes the real possibility of death. This is especially true for those who have been diagnosed with cancer or lung disease because a patient’s outlook and acceptance can have a large bearing on their ability to fight the cancer and survive.

How Nursing Helps to Improve Quality of Life

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to help those who are chronically ill is to find a way to cure their disease physically. That mindset comes from the way our medical treatment methods are designed. If a patient has a mesothelioma diagnosis for instance, than surgery and chemotherapy can help to prolong life. However, it isn’t going to bring them peace of mind. Without a sense of peace, quality of life suffers.

Psychological issues can only be calmed when patients are given the space to express their concerns. That’s what nursing can do for them. Nurses can encourage their patients to express their feelings without judging them. They can listen to a patient’s regrets. They can listen to their stories. They can also support their patients in their life and death choices whether they agree with them or not. Nursing isn’t about what’s right and wrong. It’s about showing your patients that someone actually cares.

When a patient feels that someone cares about their emotional needs, that love and concern can make a major difference in their life and the life of their family. Sometimes, survival is just a matter of finding a reason to keep fighting for life.


3 comments for “Helping Chronically Ill Patients Manage Their Fears

  1. July 31, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Victoria, you are an inspiration to us all!! I’ve had Lyme now since I was 11, I’m 33yrs old now and I too was rudeced to a wheel chair at one point, once a cheer leader and ballet dancer, homeschooled from 7th to 12th grade. It can seem so unfair at times that there are things in our life that are taken away from us that we have no control over. I believe with the loving support you have from ur family as I do we can push through this and beat this disease!! Keep your head up girl-Hugs to you<3

  2. August 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Prayers will be going out for Victoria.. I was 14 when I got sick from lyme.. and I thought I had it bad.. but, you’ve made me rezalie I need to be so so thankful for every thing I can still do. this video touched my heart, and.. thank you for it. I’m 18 and dealing with it.. I can’t imagine this little girl having to go through all that crap and so much more.. I am in awe and.. thank you for inspiring me. thank you. will be passing this on to everyone I know, lyme and healthy.

  3. Rebecca Hattem
    March 24, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I am chronically I’ll. With Lyme and many other infections there are no doctors that will understand about the disease and the viruses and infections that go with it. I already have autoimmune hhypothyroid. Intestinal parasites who knows about my heart. My lungs. I have panic disorders smoke and drink Pepsi to help survive but have adrenal burnout arthritis vaginal burning vasclar no appetite but hungry food allergies swollen membranes. That only way I can text is to have Pepsi. Weird. Insommia vision problems. The Lyme hides everything. I have faith but I am scared. You truly have to know what this disease can do plus chemical hypersensitivities. I a have edema and weakness. I anaphactoid reactions. I want to live but the pain and hunger and memory loss. Plus smells make me sick I am isolated and scared driving my husband crazy and he is on disability. I’m not. Budgeted money hardly none left and I refuse to take my husband hard work retirement. Becki 816-391-8975. Call if you know what hospital or truly a good Lyme literate Dr that will help. Fungal and bacterial and heroes who knows what else. I pray everyday and I have neuroborrelosis or neuro something encephalapty bladder or uti. Need help. Pleas call if some one can help me. I know God and his angels have been so far and always will.

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