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When Your Friend Is Chronically Ill: 25 Ways You Can Be Helpful

By HERWriter
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When A Friend Is Chronically Ill: 25 Ways You Can Be Helpful Scott Griessel-Creatista/PhotoSpin

Unfortunately it is all too common for people who want to help a chronically ill friend to miss the mark.

It's understandable, really. Unless you've had a health problem that has held you down for a good long time, it's easy to misunderstand what they need and what they want.

Below is a list of things to keep in mind. Each item on the list is to the point. That's not to give offense — any person who is chronically ill appreciates every visitor and helper who has not forgotten about them. They are thrilled to have you in their lives.

Just keep it simple ... which in the world of the chronically ill is the best way to keep things.


1) Come over to visit.

People who have been ill a long time often do not have a steady stream of visitors. Some don't have anybody coming over at all.

2) Make the visit about your friend.

Chronically ill people who don't have attentive friends or family can feel invisible and like life is passing them by, like they are faceless in an unfeeling world.

3) Do their dishes.

Chronically ill people may not be able to do their own dishes, or they may be worn out by doing them.

4) Do their laundry.

Doing laundry can be exhausting, help them save energy for another activity.

5) Ask if you can pick up anything they need.

This saves them from the overload of navigating a store, calculating the cash, then recovering after the trip. If you cover the cost of the item yourself, that can be a tremendous gift.

6) Surprise them with something they don't need.

An unexpected whimsical gift can lift the spirits in a way nothing else will.

7) Bring food.

This means less meal preparation for them. Be careful of any food allergies or sensitivities. Bring something they can safely eat.

8) Bring money.

Want to do something practical for a sick friend who can't work? There's nothing wrong with cold, hard cash.

9) Ask if they need a ride anywhere.

Even if they have a car, they may appreciate not having to drive.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Half of this is rubbish, I'm chronically ill but don't want my friends to come and do my housework on a visit and I don't want the visit to be completely about me. I want to know what's going on with them. Share a cuppa and a giggle. I don't want their money, or their pity and I definitely don't need to spend the visit wallowing. It's no wonder I see a lot of chronically ill people complaining that their friends don't visit anymore if this if what's expected. No friend, no matter how much they love you, will continue to come round if it feels like a chore every time.

April 23, 2015 - 4:23am
EmpowHER Guest

I think u nailed it although I don't think most of us are looking for money! Good info for friends thanks.

April 22, 2015 - 7:31pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

lol I would agree most of us are not looking for money. But for those of us who consistently are trying to live on far too little money and are regularly juggling our resources just to have enough to eat (and that is the case for many chronically ill people without family or disability pensions or money saved) a friend who is aware of this and helps where they can makes quite a difference in a very practical way.

April 23, 2015 - 3:58am
EmpowHER Guest

What is this crap, you've completely missed the point of being a friend..

April 22, 2015 - 3:05am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

How so, Anon?


April 22, 2015 - 6:18am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.