How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

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I don’t normally do chronic illness blog posts two weeks in a row. There are just so many other great things to talk about! While my illnesses are a big part of my life, they do not define who I am, what my goals are, and what I value. They have shaped what I am able to do, but they do not define what I want to do. And there are so many others out there who feel that way as well. However, this topic is too important not to share. A woman commented on last week’s post, “What NOT to Say to Someone with Chronic Illness“, with one of the most honest and pure responses I’ve ever received. One of her loved ones is suffering from chronic pain and she’s doing her best to help, but she honestly doesn’t know how. She asked me about how to help those with chronic illness. And while knowing what not to say is definitely important, knowing what CAN be done is even more so. How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

5 Ways to Help Those with Chronic Illness


Honestly this is one of the biggest things someone can do for their loved ones with chronic illness. Sometimes, we honestly just want to be heard. Whether we’re discussing our doctor’s appointment, talking about what we were able to on a low-symptom day, or just dreaming out loud, we often just want someone to listen. And actually hear us. It’s such a simple act, but it’s an incredible sign of care and respect that we so often lack. So thank you for listening!

Do a Little Research

Even just a wikipedia search. Learning just the most basic things about someone’s condition shows a level of care and concern that most people don’t show. It may help you understand a little more about what they’re dealing with, be more empathetic towards their challenges, and be able to identify bad symptom days. It will show your friend or loved one how much you care, that you were listening, and that you want to understand. Doing a little research about their condition will also help put your friend or loved one’s mind at ease, knowing that you believe them. How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

Be Accommodating

No one is asking you to sacrifice anything. Simply try to be accommodating. That’s all those with chronic illness ask. If you know we can’t stand for too long, try to help us make sure we have a place to sit if we need to. If you know we are incredibly fatigued but we had plans, try to help us by rescheduling. I promise, if it were up to us, we would be able to do everything you can do. We wouldn’t need accommodating. But, sometimes, as a result of our illness, we do. And please help us out with that.

Don’t Forget About Us

I know it’s hard to keep inviting someone over and over again when they keep having to decline. But I promise that it’s not because we don’t want to do something. It’s that we can’t, or we know it will make us feel even worse. We can’t always go out and do everything you can, but we still want to be considered. We still want to be invited. Those with chronic illness are still people with social needs and desires. We want to hang out with people We want to socialize. But it’s not always the easier thing for us. I know they say, “out of sight, out of mind”, but please don’t forget about us. How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

Check In

Those with chronic illness may not be overly forthcoming when it comes to their condition or their symptoms. Most of us don’t want to worry others, or annoy others, with tales of our physical or mental woes. Society trains us not to bother others with our problems, that others always have it worse, and that we might not be believed if we’re open about what we’re dealing with. So no wonder we don’t always show or explain how we’re feeling! If you haven’t heard from us in a while, shoot us a text. Ask us how we’re feeling, if there have been any developments, or what’s new. If you’re spending time with someone with a chronic illness and you notice they seem a little off, ask if they’re doing okay or if they need anything. We don’t want to be pitied, but we do want to be cared about, just like everyone else. And checking in is a great way to show you care. How to Help Those with Chronic Illness

Everyone is different, and every case is unique, but when I was asked what people can do for those with chronic illness, these are what came to mind. If you have a friend or loved one with a chronic illness, talk to them about it (if they’re comfortable doing so). See what they need, what specifically you can do. I promise you, you’ll make their day.

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32 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. This comes just a week after I was informed that someone who reports to me at work was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Of course, it’s even more difficult for friends and family, but I don’t want to make this person’s life even more difficult by not accommodating her.

    1. The fact that you care enough to be concerned is HUGE! I’m sure that person appreciates your efforts immensely! Thank you for being such an understanding person!

  2. Great blog! I love your points about accommodation and not forgetting to check in, people don’t realize how important those things are

  3. Great post with very insightful tips! A couple of my family members live with a chronic illness, and I think it’s super important to check-in regularly and see if there’s anything that can be done to help them out!

  4. From someone who has chronic illness, I can definitely relate to all of these, especially the part about having to reschedule or cancel. I know I do it frequently, and I’m so appreciative of the folks that still call and still want me to come out with them. This is a great resource.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think people forget about those with chronic issues because it is too hard to care for them or even understand what they are going through. So many in my family have suffer from chronic issues and that is why I wen to nursing school in the first place. This is a very good piece for those in this situation.

    1. I think it’s incredible that you went to nursing school! I’m sure your family is incredibly grateful for your care and concern, and your desire to help others.

    1. I’m so glad you got to read this! I knew if you had those kinds of questions, others probably did too! I hope you find this helpful!

  6. This is such a great post, Shannon! These are great tips for helping a friend/family with any challenge in life, whether it is a mental health issue , injury or chronic illness. I love the pics too! You are beautiful! 😊

  7. These are great tips and reminders, everyone wants to be cared about and included even if that means doing things a little differently!

  8. I love this post! I have a few chronic illnesses as well, and it’s been difficult communicating with family or old friends about it. I’m not the same as I was before, and I probably won’t be again. It’s been an eye-opening journey, and I’ll share this with some of my friends!

    1. it really is super enlightening isn’t it? It’s incredibly challenging dealing with all the changes that come with being chronically ill, and I don’t just mean the physical and lifestyle changes. You’re not alone girl! Always feel free to reach out if you ever need to chat! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Such great advice! Most (if not all) of us will have to deal with a loved one with some sort of horrible illness at some point in our lives. Knowing how to go about that is very important and can make a world of difference to the one suffering. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Unfortunately, so many people are affected by chronic illness, but there are so many things that we can do to support each other! Glad you found some value in this post!

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