Chronic Help: How to Be There for a Friend With a Chronic Illness

This is a wonderful article by Lexi, detailing easy things that friends or family can do to help those with chronic illnesses. It can be a daunting task to figure out where or how to help, but she offers some simple ways to help you get started. I’m so very appreciative of Lexi’s continued, valuable input. Thank you and enjoy!

by Lexi Dy

Chronic Illness

When you have a loved one suffering from a chronic illness, you want to help
in any way you can. By trying things like helping them get to doctor’s appointments,
providing home upkeep, and designing a stress-free home and work environment, you
can help your friend or family member and create a stronger bond. The following guide
presented below by Love.Karma.Food can help.

Help them get to doctor’s appointments

Your loved one may not be able to drive themselves to the doctor. When this is the
case, offer to give them a lift. Head over the night before to make sure all preparations
are ready. Make sure you have all the right forms of ID, a medication list complete with
dosages, medications needed during the appointment, snacks, and a change of clothes.

Arrive to pick up your loved one early, but don’t rush them out the door. Ensure
everything you arranged the night before is ready to go, then head out. As AARP
explains, you should be prepared to stay in the waiting room during the appointment;
your loved one may want privacy.

Help with home upkeep

Offer to help with cleaning (at least) once a week. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean
every time, but do wipe down surfaces like countertops, appliances, and mirrors. Clean
and disinfect the shower, tub, and toilet. Do laundry, especially bedding and towels.
Make sure that all of these items are on your loved one’s list and tackle anything else
they might ask you to do.
Some tasks will require the assistance of a professional. For instance, getting up on a
ladder to clean the gutters always seems easier than it actually is. Enlist the help of
trained gutter cleaners who have the right tools and knowledge and can inform you of
any issues. This is a task you usually only need to do twice a year depending on your

Help them find assisted living

Deciding to move to an assisted living facility is a major life decision, and it’s important
to consider all of the pros and cons beforehand. If your friend has decided this is the
best course of action, spend some time helping them find a facility that suits their needs.
There are many websites dedicated to listing area assisted living facilities throughout
Houston. Not only can you check ratings and look at the services they provide
(transportation, pet-friendly, hospice, etc.), but you can also request pricing information
to see if the facility fits their lifestyle, medical needs, and budget.

Always invite them out

AgingCare notes that you shouldn’t let your loved one be defined by their condition.
Treat them as you would anyone else and include them in activities whenever possible.
Simply put, always invite them and don’t be offended if they don’t come. Let them know that it’s OK if they can’t make it and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Don’t, however, get the idea that if they came to more events that they’d be “better.” Don’t try to fix them. A little encouragement to join in is fine, but don’t push too hard.

Be empathetic and compassionate

More than anything, you want to be an excellent listener. Don’t just sit and nod, really
listen. Avoid interjecting; it’s important that your loved one knows they can vent to you
without interruption. Ensure they know that you’re there because you love them, not
because you feel obligated. Validate their concerns; if they’re worried they didn’t
complete enough work that day, just note how frustrating that must be. Don’t offer
suggestions or try to pep them up. They’re allowed to have a bad day like anyone else.

Help design a stress-free home environment

The state of one’s home can have a major impact on mental well-being. Start by
removing clutter, especially in places like the bedroom, kitchen, and home office. Items
needed the most should be out in the open, while items that are used less should be
tucked away. Further, make the most of natural light.
If your loved one works from home, it’s especially important to make their office a calm, relaxing space. Ensure their technology is up-to-date, particularly if you’re very tech-savvy and you know shortcuts. Check that their desk chair is ergonomic and comfortable.
For some, an unsupportive chair can increase pain from their illness.
Supporting a loved one with a chronic illness is vitally important to your relationship.
Just be there for them. Whether you transport them to doctor’s appointments, help them
find assisted living facilities that suit their specific needs, invite them out regularly, show empathy and compassion, and design a stress-free work and home environment, you can show your support and love.

Photo by Unsplash

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