Helping a friend or family member who is facing a health battle can be daunting. You may not know what to say or do. However, simply showing you care can provide someone who is sick with much needed comfort. Try these three strategies to show your support.
1. Visit regularly
Seeing your loved one in person provides emotional support at a time when he or she may feel alone. Remember to:
- Be flexible about what the visit entails. Your friend or family member may not be up for talking. However, just sitting and reading a book, listening to music or watching TV can provide comfort.
- If your loved one does want to talk, listen and be receptive to feelings of sadness, fear or anger about the illness. Don’t offer medical advice.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if your friend is experiencing any discomfort – you may be able to help by adjusting pillows or letting caregivers know.
- Remember to discuss topics your friend or family member enjoys, so you’re not solely focused on the illness.
- When appropriate, ask your loved one for opinions and advice as you would in any friendship.
- Hug or hold hands with your loved one to show you care.
- Call ahead to schedule visits at a time that’s good for your loved one and mention your next visit so he or she can look forward to it.
2. Call and text often
Frequent contact with your loved one through phone calls, texts or e-mails can also offer support.
- Try sending e-mails or texts with family photos or links to articles on the web that you know would interest your friend. This can help take his or her mind off the illness.
- Reach out at times that are convenient for your loved one.
- As you’re wrapping up, remind your friend that you’ll be in touch soon.
- Be careful communicating via social media – you don’t know how much information your loved one wants to share about the illness in a public forum.
3. Help with household duties
Offer to shop, cook, clean, or perform other household tasks or errands. Be as specific as possible. For example, saying “I would like to walk your dog Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings,” can help take the burden of organizing tasks off your loved one.
Several online websites are also available to help with logistics, allowing you to create online signup sheets to organize friends and family for food preparation and meal delivery. If you’re unable to help with meals, your loved one may qualify for assistance from Project Angel Food. This nonprofit prepares and drops off healthy meals and offers nutritional counseling free of charge to people in Los Angeles County who cannot shop or cook for themselves due to illness.
There are also services online dedicated to helping you organize logistics for childcare, pet care, lawn care, transportation, household chores or visits for emotional support through these sites.
In addition, UCLA Health provides a variety of support and educational opportunities for caregivers and loved ones of those affected by illness.
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