10 Things You Can Do for a Friend Who Has a Chronic Illness

by Vanessa Collins Patient Expert

Do you know someone living with a chronic illness? Would you like to do something meaningful for that person, but don’t know what they need? Here are ten suggestions.

Stay in touch

People who are chronically ill often become isolated. Isolation leads to loneliness. You can help break that cycle by calling the person on a regular basis. Sending a greeting card is another way to brighten someone's day. Send a real card, not an e-card. Take the time to write a short, personal note. The personal touch means a lot.

Just listen

Be a good friend. Good friends just listen. They don't try to fix anything. They don't design a "plan of action." Sometimes just being there with the person is all that is needed. There may be times when your friend asks for your opinion. That is the time to share your thoughts.

Offer to babysit

If your friend has small children, offer to babysit. Be specific, and keep your promise. You may offer to babysit so that your friend can have a night out with her husband. A gift of your time can be so precious to someone who is living with a chronic illness.

Pick up prescriptions or groceries

If you are going out, give your friend a call. Ask if he or she would like you to run by the pharmacy and pick up medications. Let your friend know you are going grocery shopping, and ask if there is anything he or she may need from the grocery store.

Take your friend to the movies

Invite your friend to see a movie. Be flexible with the time and date. People living with a chronic illness have good days and bad days. They will want to go when they will have the best time possible. If your friend cannot go out, ask if you can bring over a DVD and watch a movie together.

Treat your friend with a spa appointment

Going to a spa for a massage, pedicure, or manicure is such a treat. The spa I use has massage chairs you sit in while you soak your feet. If your friend is using a wheel chair, you might want to suggest a manicure. Picking out nail colors and chatting with other clients is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Bring dinner

If your friend has children, offer to pick up a pizza and run it by for dinner. You could also cook a homemade dinner for the family. If your friend is single, offer to take him or her out to dinner, or bring something by for both of you.

Ask what your friend needs

Communication is so important, especially when you want to do something meaningful. Ask your friend what he or she may need. Help paying for prescription meds for a month, or help paying a heating bill may be more pressing than a movie or babysitting. You won't know unless you ask.

Offer transportation to appointments

One of the most caring things you can do is offer a ride to doctor appointments or out-patient services. You need to be specific. Let your friend know when you would be able to take him or her to an appointment. Keep your promise. Your friend has many trials to overcome. You do not want to add addition stress by backing out of a commitment.

There are many other things your friend may need. Keep communication lines open with your friend. Doing so will allow you to know exactly what your friend really needs. Helping others can bring you great joy. When you see a smile on your friend's face, you will physically feel your heart fill up with love and gratitude for such an experience. It doesn't get much better than that.

Vanessa Collins
Meet Our Writer
Vanessa Collins

Vanessa wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).