AVOID THE DANGEROUS HEALTH RISKS OF LONELINESS
A key motivation in starting INGA Wellbeing patient clothing company was to tackle the issue of people suffering ill-health feeling isolated. From the rest of the world, but often from their own friends and family too – feeling suddenly ‘different’ and on the outside.
This is exacerbated by many factors – the simple truth is that many people in their network do not, and can not, understand how it feels to live with their diagnosis. This can change the dynamic in a relationship. Finding a way to have an open dialogue is therefore so very important in keeping hold of the vital support that is needed to get through treatment.
There are environmental factors that can really help tackle this issue too. In not creating an environment where the person sees themselves and is seen by others as a ‘patient’, rather than a person it is possible to retain the relationship enjoyed to date. The importance of this can not be under-stated. The effect of loneliness and isolation on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking (Holt-Lunstad, 2010). Creating an environment where somebody you love distances themselves from those around them through awkwardness or embarrassment is to directly, negatively impact their health.
Our patient clothing has been designed to look like entirely ‘normal’ clothes – tops, trousers and dresses that men and women might wear in every-day life but that are adapted to accommodate the realities of medical treatment through discreed poppered seams. We were inspired to create such garments based on our own experiences. The co-founders’ mothers both endured years of cancer treatment and increasingly felt that they lost their identities once swamped by the undignified gown. Once worn they would decline visitors, stop walking the wards. Their health would noticeably deteriorate. What may seem to some to be a matter of fashion became a serious health issue.
There are many other ways that the healthcare environment can be improved, even if staying in hospital. Ward-regular Nikla, co-founder of INGA Wellbeing, has put together a guide you can find here offering ideas and inspiration based on her extensive experience.