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7 Ways to Assist a Loved One With a Chronic Illness

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Perhaps your loved one has been struggling with a chronic illness for a while, or maybe they’ve recently been diagnosed. Either way, you’re wondering how to help. Perhaps you can look for clinical trials that may help, or simply build awareness while being emotionally supportive. As you search for the best ways to help your loved one, these tips from HIS Breast Cancer Awareness can provide you some guidance on your journey.

Find Relevant Clinical Trials

Your loved one probably tries to stay up-to-date with the latest research on their condition. If they’ve expressed interest in personally joining a clinical trial, you can help them find one to participate in. To identify a relevant trial that they may be eligible for, Meridian Clinical Research recommends looking at websites for specific pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, or disease research foundations.

Provide Emotional Support

Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness can be emotionally devastating. Simply being there for your loved one is important. Do not try to relate to their pain. It’s best to be empathetic and take their experience as their own. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt to learn more about their illness, including finding support options for them. This is especially important if the illness is less common or less discussed, like male breast cancer. People with these illnesses can feel isolated, alone, and unsupported. Be there for them however you can.

An easy way to support our loved one is to give them a ride to their doctors’ appointments. This may not feel like emotional support, but reaching out and helping without being asked can make a big impact. Plus, the time during the ride and while waiting for the appointment can be great opportunities to connect with your loved one about whatever is on their mind, or distract them a little with some friendly banter. Ask your loved one about their appointment schedule, and see where you could pitch in.

Help Around the House

It may be hard for your loved one to get around safely, which can make household chores and minor repairs a dangerous undertaking. Make it a point to stop by regularly to see what things you can do around the house to alleviate stress. If you don’t have the time or the skill to address a particular task, hire someone to take care of it. For instance, if the rain gutters are full and need to be cleaned before the rainy season, look online for “clean gutters near you.” Call around to a few places that have good reviews to ensure a good rate. You want someone trustworthy in case they identify a problem and need to replace something. You don’t want your loved one to get taken advantage of, and you want to ensure the job is done correctly.

Create a Low-Maintenance Home Office

Perhaps your loved one already works from home, or they plan to transition to remote work soon for the sake of their health. You can help them by setting up a comfortable, low-maintenance home office. Go shopping with your loved one to pick out ergonomic furniture, as conventional furniture could put unnecessary stress on their back, neck, and shoulders. Furthermore, come up with an organized system for storing physical and digital paperwork. This will help your loved one save time while working and keep the space tidy.

Being organized in their home office and throughout their living space is important for stress reduction, too. Help your loved one to attend to any stacks of paper or bills lying around. Creating a system and reducing clutter will help to create a calm and low-stress home environment. Removing clutter can also help prevent falls and additional anxiety over not being able to find a particular important document or information.

Try Yoga and Meditation Together

If your loved one is feeling a bit bored, they might benefit from some low-impact hobbies that support their mental and physical health. You may want to suggest going to a gentle yoga class or trying meditation together! Both of these practices can be accessible to people with chronic illnesses. While it’s important to understand that neither yoga nor meditation are “cures,” but they can help your loved one deal with stress and strong emotions. For example, EkhartYoga states that even practicing slow, simple yoga sequences can help you clear stagnant energy, increase your balance, improve your muscle tone, and boost your overall strength.

Help Your Loved One Move

What if your loved one is struggling with a progressive disease, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, or another condition that will eventually cause them to lose their independence? You can start researching nearby facilities that provide assisted living services, memory care, or round-the-clock support. Look for reputable facilities that fit their needs and budget.

If your loved one needs to move somewhere more accessible, you can give them a helping hand by finding a moving company for them. Browse online reviews for a few moving companies near me, and then contact a few to get price quotes. A trustworthy moving company will need to conduct an in-home inspection and provide a written estimate, so don’t accept an estimate over the phone.

Cook for Your Loved One

Cooking for someone with a chronic illness can be complicated, but if you understand your loved one’s dietary specifications, cooking them meals when possible is a good idea. The Health Sessions recommends using tools like a slow cooker to batch-cook healthy meals with minimal effort. Ask your loved one about their favorite recipes, and offer to buy groceries!

Living with a chronic illness is exhausting. People with chronic conditions often need extensive support. If your loved one is struggling with their health, these tips can help you make their life a little easier.

If your loved one was diagnosed with male breast cancer, encourage him to visit HIS Breast Cancer Awareness. We offer helpful resources and research updates to bring awareness to this chronic illness, and to help people who have been diagnosed to better understand their illness.

Editor: Scott Sanders is the creator of Cancer Well, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment.

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