Encourage and support the patient:
The most important thing a relative can do is to let the person concerned know that there is a future for him – far though it may be from what was originally hoped for. A person with schizophrenia is very vulnerable – he desperately needs assurance of his worth, is very sensitive and needs people to believe in him.
The need for supervision varies. Patients who are chronically ill or who express suicidal thoughts and seem very depressed need constant supervision. Those undergoing treatment must be supervised periodically in order to ensure that drugs are taken. Personal hygiene is looked after and that there is no return to depression. As patients improve. The need for supervision will slowly decrease as the patient becomes self-sufficient and can be trusted to function safely alone.
Appreciate of the smallest task is important Until a person’s abilities and efforts are recognized and appreciated, his self-confidence is severely limited. As far as possible ignore deluded or abnormal talk. Show interest and try to prolong normal talk and conversation.
Do not ignore:
Ignoring the patient’s attempts to regain his self-esteem, his smallest achievement or his desire to talk or discuss his future can have serious effects on the patient, Be patient and do not ignore him.
Do not criticize:
Derogatory criticism, taunting or disbelief can have a very traumatic effect on the schizophrenic who is in a very sensitive state and easily hurt Haranguing and harassing the patient only adds to the stress and may lead to a return of the acute symptoms.
Do not exert social pressure:
Trying to make the schizophrenic aware of his social and financial responsibilities while he is undergoing treatment is the wrong thing to do, for now, just show him that you believe in him and him that you believe in him and aim at self-sufficiency. As the patient improves, he himself should be allowed to grow slowly into a realization of his own abilities and responsibilities.
Refrain from over involvement:
Sometimes the patient may interpret interest and support as interference and ‘meddling’. In that case it is better to back off and stand by in case of need, rather than involve yourself actively. But do not ignore him altogether. It is important to strike the right balance between a caring involvement and constant intrusion.
Remember he is still intelligent:
Do not write off the patient as mentally deficient. Aside from distortions in thought and perception, he is still an aware and sensitive individual. Insensitive discussions of his condition or his future while he is present could prove to be very harmful.
Watch for a Relapse:
Patients may sometimes suffer a relapse for no obvious reason. Watch out for early signs of this such as sleeplessness, increased restlessness, irritability and a return of hallucinations. Take the patient immediately to a psychiatrist, so that medication may be adjusted and a relapse prevented.
Maintain a check:
Even after a patient is rehabilitated and goes back to work or study, it is important to check regularly on his progress in order to prevent a sudden, unforeseen relapse. If the patient leaves to work in another city, be sure to stay in touch with someone – a friend or relative – who can give you periodic reports of the patient’s progress.
Accept him as he is:
It is very important for families to realize the limitations and weaknesses of the patient. You can minimize your own frustrations by learning not to expect the impossible from him. The patient’s condition can be made to improve – but slowly. The best thing you can do to set him speedily and surely on the road to recovery is to refrain from rejection and to accept him wholeheartedly as he is.