It’s a devastating situation; someone you love is severely ill or has an ongoing condition affecting their life, and you just can’t work out how best to help them. Read on for some simple tips that will help you make a difference to their lives.
The best way to help someone who is deeply ill is to consider them as part of a family unit. Often, helping their partner or their children translates directly across to helping them as it takes a lot of pressure off of their relationships and, of course, as it helps the poorly person to cope with their own inability to be around.
Cooking is a time-honoured tradition, especially things such as casserole dishes and lasagnes that can be frozen and then thawed and reheated at their convenience. Adding the convenience factor really helps to give the family some control back over their lives, which they may feel is lacking due to their inability to control the illness or condition facing them.
If cooking is simply not your thing, you can order full meals from delivery services such as Wiltshire Farm Foods or Oakhouse Foods.
They will deliver the meals frozen so they can be used as ready-meals, but of much higher quality than the ready-meals available in shops.
In families with young children, babysitting services may be invaluable. Especially if the poorly person is another child, it may take untold measures of stress out of the parents’ lives to know they don’t have to worry about taking care of their other kids whilst visiting or even just whilst doing routine things such as the weekly shop. Offering isn’t always enough; some people are very reticent about accepting such offers and you may find it easier to show them how serious you are by taking charge and telling them you’re babysitting. Only do this if you know them well enough, however, as it could be overstepping the boundaries of your friendship otherwise. Simply taking the children to and from school may make a big difference, too, if that’s an option.
Like cooking, any housework takes a lot of time away from the family that might be ill-afforded in cases where a family member is severely ill. This can be a source of embarrassment, so the best thing to do is be brisk and matter-of-fact about it. When you visit, straighten up the kitchen without being asked and without telling them you’re doing it. Simply offer to make a brew and do the dishes while you’re in there. If you don’t draw attention to it, they won’t feel badly for it. This is not really feasible with casual acquaintances, but if you are close friends or family you can really help the family get more time to spend with each other or with their loved one.
Of course, the patient may need some attention, too. Books and magazines can really help someone keep busy when they’re bedridden, but don’t discount the benefit of having something to do. Crossword puzzles come in books, and some can be purchased with a pen readily attached. Cross-stitch kits may seem a bit juvenile, but the sense of any accomplishment at all can really help a bedridden person feel more active.
Having someone you care about diagnosed with a severe or ongoing illness can be a distressing time. But by helping them and their family cope you can not only help them, but also help yourself feel less helpless. Good luck!