How to support someone with a chronic illness

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A person who has a chronic illness is someone who is sick all the time. Although it may not look like it, even if they are not constantly in pain or feeling bad, their condition is always there, and this fact alone can make people feel low and even depressed. Support is essential to their overall well-being; happiness and positive thinking can ease pain and symptoms and make the condition easier to manage, and support can help them achieve this state of mind.

Here are some of the best ways to help a loved one if they have a chronic illness, such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis or the effects of a stroke, among many other conditions.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

check in

It’s easy to lose touch with people, and it can be even easier for people with chronic illnesses. If they can’t or won’t go out, they may not see their friends very often. This can damage their mental health, which can then damage their physical health and make them sicker than they were before.

Just call, text, send a quick email or connect via social media to ask if they’re okay, talk about your day, give them news and information, or talk about nothing, just to make sure they’re okay and let them know you’re thinking it might be enough to help. If you do this often, you will both benefit.

Listen

As mentioned above, you can contact someone you know who is dealing with a long-term illness. It’s great and it can really help. Still, listening to them will help even more and is something you can do at the same time. They may not have anyone to talk to, worry with, or even complain to. Let them talk and let them vent their worries and frustrations. It will help them more than keeping everything inside.

Don’t think you know what’s best for them; only they can find that out for themselves. Listen to what they have to say and then you can decide what to do. You can help them find a group of people who can help them if they want, such as mesotheliomaveterans.org. Talk to them about the options, if they want to explore how another medication might help, and if they want your advice. Let them talk about how sick they are, how much pain they are in, and what problems it is causing them. All this they need and you can help them get it.

Be flexible

A person with a long-term illness may sometimes feel well enough to participate in the plans you have made. Sometimes they won’t. Often they don’t know how their condition will affect them until that day. This is where your willingness to be flexible will really help and be another way to help someone with a serious illness.

Make sure that if you plan something with this person, it can be changed or postponed if necessary. That way, the sick person won’t feel bad about “ruining” what you had planned to do together that day, and the two of you can do something else that you can both handle. For example, you might have thought it would be a good idea to go to the beach with a friend, but when you go to pick them up, they don’t want to go outside. In that case, just binge-watch a box set and order a pizza. Acknowledging that things can change and that you may not be able to do the things you used to do with each other without guilt or pity can be difficult, but it is important.

Being flexible can make a big difference in a good relationship with someone who has a chronic illness. It’s also a good skill to have in general.

Do your research

When a family member or friend learns that they have a long-term illness, it can be scary. They may feel very alone and you may feel like you don’t know how to help them or are just as lost and confused as they are.

In this case, you need to learn as much as possible about the disease so that you can be as helpful as possible. If you know more, you can do more to help, which will make the person feel loved and cared for.

Start by looking up the disease online, but remember that the internet can contain a lot of incorrect information. But you will start to understand, which is a good thing. After that, it can be helpful to join forums and groups, go to meetings, or talk to a doctor to learn more. They will be happy to help you and then you will know a lot more about how to help your family member or friend.

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