Did you know that “family caregivers of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior”? If you’ve ever missed a class or work to address an urgent request from the person with acromegaly (PWA) in your life, this fact may ring true.

Being an can be a fulfilling, if challenging, experience. However, if your daily schedule accommodates the PWA’s life as well as your own, that can leave little room for much else.

If left unchecked, this kind of set-up can have adverse effects on your emotional, physical, and mental health, and even make you feel socially isolated. Over time, you might find it difficult to show up not only for the PWA but for your friends, family, and especially yourself.

For these reasons and more, self-care is vital. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges of being an AcroAlly, especially in a family context, how to prioritize yourself, and learn how to navigate your evolving relationship with the PWA in your life.

Speaking out and speaking up for what you need

If you’re an AcroAlly for someone in your own family, it likely means that some of your day-to-day responsibilities fall to other family members. This reallocation of household or familial duties could extend to the youngest family members, such as youth under 18, who may not have the emotional maturity to grasp the importance of their role, what it entails, and how it may affect them. As such, knowing how to ask for help and articulating what that help looks like are invaluable skills for you as an AcroAlly and can help adult and younger family members know how to step into their new role.

For example, if you’re a parent caring for a family member with acromegaly, you might be tempted to say to your teen child, “I’m so tired! I don’t have time to cook dinner tonight.” However, this approach doesn’t tell younger family members what you need or how they can help. Instead, you might try something like: “I’ll be late coming home because I’m driving Aunt Clare to get her medication. Since you’re such a good cook, I’d love for you to make dinner for the family. It would be a real treat for everyone.”

For more guidance on dealing with family dynamics while being an AcroAlly, you can explore the organizations listed in the Resources section below.

Learning to do “the dance”

Another potentially challenging dynamic is the PWA-AcroAlly relationship itself, as in some cases there is a psychological advance-and-retreat at work. We call this “the dance.” For example, a PWA may have a strong sense of independence or pride that prevents them from asking for what they need. They may worry about being perceived as “weak.” Meanwhile, you might be cautious, trying to avoid saying or doing anything that implies the PWA is incapable or makes them feel less-than. Your fear of overstepping as an AcroAlly combined with a genuine desire to help creates a tug-of-war that doesn’t feel good.

The best way to address this kind of push-and-pull dynamic is to acknowledge “the dance” and learn how to talk it over together. Doing so can help foster a healthy and sustainable long-term PWA/AcroAlly relationship. For more detailed tools, exercises, and resources to help AcroAllies like you show up in vital, positive ways for the PWA in your life, check out the full post, “Showing Up: Supporting Someone with Acromegaly.”

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