So you totally get it! Your chronically ill friend is not faking it, is not a flake when they have to cancel plans and goes out of their way to do things for others just like you do. Maybe they couldn’t make it to girl’s night out because their new med made them sick, but you get it. It’s just like the time you had to cancel plans because you got the terrible flu.
Oh, you say you would like to better understand how to help your friend? After all, they did show up at your son’s graduation clearly in discomfort, but were also very happy to be there. Well, the first thing would of course be, just ask them. All of us, sick or not, have different needs. Here are some suggestions to get you going.
The #1 thing you can offer your chronically ill friend, is you! I am not kidding. It can be very isolating to be chronically ill. Yeah, sometimes that means you do the driving for a visit because they can’t. And yes, as you know, sometimes they will have to cancel plans, but having someone be your friend is a true gift.
What does the picture above have to do with helping your friend? Well, everything actually. That is a meal that I was able to make myself. You see, my boyfriend made extra veggies and rice one night. He also bought the fish fillet for me when he was grocery shopping. I was able to warm up the veggies and rice in the microwave, get out the tomato stuff on the rice from a container in the refrigerator and add that too. The hard part was broiling the fish, but I made it work. This did two things: helped me out and allowed me some independence because I made my own dinner! So send them home with left overs from a get together or offer to make dinner with them or for them.
I asked this question on google+: “I am thinking about writing a post on little things people can do that makes a difference for those of us who are chronically ill. What have people done to help you or cheer you up?” Cathy replied, “When my husband brushes my hair….I love that few minutes of feeling “normal.”" Something as simple as brushing their hair or helping them wash it can make a big difference to your friend.
Other small things you can do is:
- Offer to pick up stuff off the floor. Bending over when you are stiff or have trouble walking or with balance is a challenge. Sometimes impossible.
- Offer to do a household chore, indoor or out. We all have different challenges and when it comes to chores, especially if the person lives alone, it is probably pretty obvious what it is they struggle with.
- Open cans for them. That is huge for me! My thumbs are really bad and it can be pretty painful sometimes to open cans. It is also un-needed stress on my thumb joints.
- Open doors for them; especially if they walk with a mobility aid.
- Offer to go grocery shopping with them. Maybe your friend can’t push the cart, or maybe they just struggle with the heavy stuff.
- Watch a movie with them. Seriously what could be more fun?
- Offer to go to the doctor’s with them. It could be the actual driving that is a challenge or maybe they can use the support.
- And never stop offering to hang out with them. Maybe they had a bad year and now they can do things again. It is very common to be forgotten and the disease it’s self causes enough heartache. We all get wrapped up in our lives and have to reconnect so don’t be afraid to call them after awhile. Real friends always understand the ebb of flow of friendship.