Information for family and friends

An important part of the management of vestibular disorders is the ability of relatives and friends to understand and support their loved one whilst, at the same time, trying to overcome the bewilderment of the situation which is not characterised by the usual visible symptoms and medicinal cures of more common complaints. One minute your friend or loved one is looking perfectly healthy and engaging in normal activities and the next they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they are confused, vomiting and distressed. It is important that you understand as much as you can about vestibular disorders to support those affected and help them regain their confidence.

Your life is likely to be disrupted from time to time, plans may have to change suddenly and appointments cancelled without any prior warning. Feelings of frustration and anger are valid and understandable, but it’s important that how you express them to the sufferer. Whatever you do, don’t say “Pull yourself together it is all in the mind”. They have a physical disability for which there is no known cause or cure. They will be feeling a terrible burden on you. Listen to their fear and anxieties - they are real and understandable because no one can predict when an attack is going to occur. Don’t wrap them up in cotton wool but gently persuade them to take up their normal activities as soon as they have recovered from an attack which can take a couple of days. It is important that the person affected is seen by a specialist experienced in treating vestibular disorders. What is needed most is your love, reassurance, understanding, patience and acceptance to help them manage their condition.

Our information line is also available for family and friends. Please contact us for further information or to talk to a member of our team. You can also download our factsheet:'Information for family,friends and employers'.

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