Tips for Living Together with Someone who Suffers from a Chronic Illness - Interview with doctor Gisela Heldt

Q: Shall a person who suffers from an illness ask family, friends and colleagues at work for help and confidence?

A: Yes, one shall ask for help and for confidence, in many cases it can be better to ask an outsider who does not share every day´s life with the person concerned. Family members can sometimes react totally different to diagnoses, to the fear of the related person and to her / his questions. Especially when the person concerned thinks to be obliged to support the person of trust. This can be very stressful.


Q: How to deal with an illness if you don´t know how it will end? What can one do – with the help of holistic medicine – to stay powerful and strong?

A: There could be an answer to this situation that usually never occurs. One should talk about any disease with family and friends from the very beginning. But how if the behaviour of the person concerned is difficult to predict – she / he is always talking about illness but only caught a cold … But what if the diarrhoea this time indicates a cancer of the colon? In fact one must differ between question and illness and ask for how people usually treat family members and friends. Are they living respectfully and lovingly with each other? – You get lots of practice in arranging family reunions or a holiday with family and friends, parties for the members of a community or in the parish. How to band people in groups together – cohabiters, colleagues – and how can one positively exert influence on a group?

Q: How can one become sophisticated that she or he can accept what others propose?

A: Now we get to the core of the matter: how can one come to terms with her-/himself? How can one deal with different occurrences? What are her or his ethic values and how can she or he organise her/his life under these circumstances? Lecturing on this matter is much more easier than to put it into practice. One has to learn to let people go and has to learn that they meet unknown persons. One should not act like a prima donna but reshape her/his life in an active and positive way.

Gisela Passfoto August 2012_bearbeitet-1

Q: How can one support people who are living with a chronic ill person? How to deal with the situation that one has to nurse day by day a critically ill person? How to divert and entertain the “nurse”?

A: When one knows that a special situation will last very long and will change everybody´s life one can make an objective evaluation and develop visions and strategies. Generally that´s not the rule. The person concerned and the affiliated are being confronted with the apparently acute disease and with the pending changes. Even if one has still talked about illness and how to deal with it, everything is different if the case is acute. Scarcely anybody uses the opportunity to discuss in advance and in quiet what to organise and for how long. Most people react then with intensive activity, to be of the – wrong – mind that acting without delay one can soon turn back the clock. Therefore it is difficult for many people to find the right track. Sometimes one has taken a line that one wouldn´t have taken if one had thought about seriously or one would have taken it only for a certain time. Most people only take notice when they have reached their upper limit – be it mental or physical – that it cannot go on like that anymore. The family think that there is no chance getting out off their obligation. Who, but them, will deal with this? Will others get this right and in the way they did it? – Nobody can say what is right and what is reasonable. Meeting the people in my practice I always ask the related persons to decide: can they give aid, will they give aid, that the way they go together develops in the desired direction, i.e. to be quickly exhausted, to lose one´s temper towards the patient and towards oneself. At this point one perceives if the related are stabilized in their living conditions, if they have steady characters, or if the new situation will dramatically change their lives and their communal living.


Always try to keep cool when making a decision. Be steady and helpful.

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