Huntington’s disease (HD) can take a toll on relationships, however, HD doesn’t have to weaken the bond between you and your loved ones. Although a positive gene test or diagnosis of HD will inevitably change the nature of your relationships, it is important to remember that you are still the same person despite HD. Some people may not know how to respond to this change while others may be more understanding. For more information on talking to others about HD, download Info sheet 10 - Telling Others about HD.
Despite this, there are ways you and your loved ones can deal with the strain HD can place on a relationship through the following:
Communication is vital in dealing with the ups and downs that are inevitable with HD. Without it, trying to address issues/challenges can potentially lead to feelings of distance and a lack of intimacy. Talking openly about changes to your relationship is the first step toward effective problem-solving as a team and facilitate an overall sense of confidence in each other.
Maintain your Interests
Living with HD can be isolating but do not let it define every aspect of your life. Ensure that you and your loved one continue with social activities and interests you were involved in prior to HD. To strengthen relationships and increase an overall sense of well-being, it is essential to allocate time for your own overall emotional, physical and cognitive health needs as well as the needs of the relationship.
Dealing with Stressful Emotions
HD is unpredictable and therefore can bring about various emotional responses at any given point in time. To regain control over responses to challenges faced in a relationship, we would suggest the following:
- Keep up to date about current and new HD treatments and how to access available resources.
- Consider seeking support outside your close family and friends. A trained professional (i.e. counsellor) can provide objective advice on how to best navigate through problematic times and maintain your relationships.
- The more knowledge you have, the less stressful a situation can be. Educate yourself and your loved about the disease, what to expect and how to plan for the future.