Living with a chronic illness can be incredibly difficult; so can knowing how to be there for someone living with a chronic illness. Try the following tips to show love to the friend or family member in your life who’s experiencing difficulties:
Your loved one may find it difficult to ask for help, so offer yours before they have to ask. However, don’t assume you know what they need. Always let them tell you.
Speak to your friend or family member like you would for anybody else, not with pity, but with simple kindness: “Hey, I’m going to town to buy a few things, is there anything I can get for you?” This way, they would be more comfortable to let you know what they need without sounding imposing or feeling uncomfortable that they might have inconvenienced you.
Check in on them
Your loved one may not want to pre-emptively burden others with their problems. Send them regular messages asking them how they are so they have the chance to unload. Asking them rather than waiting for them to tell you will help them to feel as though you care.
Plan an event for them
Planning events or outings can be tiring. This is even more exhausting for people living with a chronic illness or disability. Why not take on the responsibility of planning a special trip? Choose something fun, simple, and relaxing that you can enjoy together. For example, you could plan a visit to an art gallery if they enjoy art. You could also plan a picnic or a spa trip.
Help with chores
One of the more difficult parts of living with a chronic illness or disability is the fact that life goes on around you. It’s often impossible to ignore household tasks. Even though they may feel insurmountable, they have to be done. You’ll help your friend greatly if you offer to do some light cleaning or run errands once a week. It won’t be much to you, but it could mean an evening of relaxation for them.
Surprise them with a gift
Giving your loved one a gift is a great way to show you care. Choose something related to their hobbies or something universally loved – such as entertainment subscriptions, digital books, gift certificates, fun clothes or toys, or a handmade coupon book, redeemable for things like a coffee visit or a foot massage.
Learn about their condition
Chronic illness and disability can be alienating. Learn about your loved one’s condition, so you’re able to better understand when they complain or talk about it. Useful online resources include the Chronic Illness Alliance and the American Chronic Pain Association.
Give them your chauffeur services
Perhaps your loved one needs a lift to a doctor’s appointment, or perhaps they just want to visit a friend. If their chronic illness means that they can’t drive, they likely feel isolated. Offering transport and companionship will help them to have more freedom.
Offer financial support
People with chronic illnesses spend a lot of money on food, medications, and supplements. To ease this burden, offer a little financial support. It doesn’t have to be major. Offering to buy groceries once a month or to take your loved one for a meal will still mean a great deal.
Cooking can be time-consuming and overwhelming for someone with a chronic illness or disability. Bringing food or even ordering food for them every so often will make their evening a lot easier. You could even eat together – sharing food is a great way to bond.
Talking about the fun details and people involved in your day will help your loved one to feel connected to the outside world. Socialising may be impractical for them, so entertain them with stories of your friends or workplace.
Always be there to listen
Sometimes, people with chronic illnesses just need the opportunity to complain. Offer to be there for them whenever they need a shoulder to cry on.
We all need to get out of our heads from time to time. People with chronic illnesses don’t want to think about their problems 24/7. Offer your loved one magazines or books, or watch a movie together.
Harper believes there is awesome power in being kind, whether small gestures such as holding a door for someone, giving a heartfelt compliment, or something bigger like paying for a family’s meal or leaving a big tip. As the saying goes, “every act of kindness creates a ripple with no end.” Harper has written for several local businesses including Hercules Gazebo, and shares most of her published work on her personal blog.