Besides just being there, listening, or praying, sometimes we feel hopeless in our efforts to help our loved one cope with their disability. Here are some ways you can help:
- Educate yourself about their disability
The best way to help is to learn as much about your loved one’s disability. This will help you understand what they are dealing with on a daily basis and how you can best support them. It can also help prevent misunderstandings.
- Be an advocate
Your loved one may not be able to speak up for themselves or may not have the energy to do so. You can be their voice, whether it’s speaking to their doctor about their care or working with teachers to ensure they have the support they need in school.
- Connect with other resources
Many organizations and support groups out there can offer additional help and guidance. Home health care companies are a wonderful option as well. Do some research and connect your loved one with these resources to get the support they need.
- Help with practical needs
There are likely many practical things you can do to help, such as running errands, helping with transportation, or pitching in around the house. Ask your loved one what would be most helpful and try to take on some of the tasks that may be difficult for them.
- Be a shoulder to lean on
Your loved one may just need someone to talk to who understands what they’re going through. Be a good listener and provide emotional support when needed. Sometimes simply being there can make a world of difference.
- Offer respite care
Caregivers need breaks too. If you are able, offer to take over for a day or two so the primary caregiver can have some time to themselves. This can be a much-needed opportunity to recharge and come back refreshed.
No one said helping a disabled family member is easy, but it can be very rewarding. Knowing you are there for them and doing what you can to make their lives easier can make a big difference.
How to support someone dealing with a debilitating illness
From the “sufferers'” point of view:
- Show us compassion and empathy
- Reflect what we say and do your own research
- Give us validation and believe in us
- Show interest and support in our journey
- Let us know that it’s OK to not be OK
- Acknowledge our courage
- Pray for us or send positive vibes
- Tell us we’re not alone
- Offer to help us out
- Be patient with us
- Encourage and motivate us
- Empower us
What do you say to someone who is suffering from chronic pain?
First, it’s essential to let the person know that you care and are there for them. You can say something like, “I’m so sorry that you’re in pain. I’ll be here for you however I can.” It’s also important to avoid phrases that may sound dismissive, such as “it’s all in your head” or “you’ll get used to it.”
Instead, try to focus on offering empathy and understanding. For example, you could say something like, “I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you,” or “Your pain is valid, and I’m here to listen.” Offer any practical support you can, such as helping with household tasks or running errands. Let the person know that you’re there for them and will do whatever you can (in your power) to help.
The theme here seems to be…listening! It does not matter what difficulty a friend or family member may be going through, being a good listener is top of the list.
How to be a good listener in communication
There are five key active listening techniques you can use to help you become a more effective listener:
- Pay attention
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to actually give the person your full attention. That means putting away any distractions, such as your phone, and making eye contact. Really try to listen to what the person is saying and understand their perspective.
- Show that you’re listening
Let the person know that you’re hearing them by summarizing what they’ve said or asking questions for clarification. This will also help to ensure that you’re actually understanding the message correctly.
- Provide feedback
It’s helpful to provide both positive and negative feedback, depending on the situation. For example, you might say something like, “I can see that you’re really angry about what happened,” or “I’m sorry that you’re going through this, it sounds really tough.”
- Defer judgment
Try to put aside any preconceived notions or judgments you have about the person or the situation. This can be not easy, but it’s essential to try to remain open-minded.
- Respond appropriately
Once you’ve fully listened to and understood the person’s message, it’s time to respond appropriately. This will vary depending on the situation but could involve offering support, advice, or just a shoulder to cry on.
How can I improve listening skills?
Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
Step 2: Be attentive but relaxed
Step 3: Keep an open mind
Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying
Step 5: Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
Step 6: Pay attention to nonverbal communication
Step 7: Refrain from distractions
Step 8: Seek to understand before being understood
Step 9: Be patient and don’t rush the speaker
Step 10: Provide periodic feedback (not to be confused with interrupting = balance)
How can I help a disabled family member?
In conclusion, it certainly can be challenging to know how to help a family member or friend who has a disability. The most important thing you can do is show interest and support in their journey. Acknowledge their courage and let them know that you are there for them. Offer to help out with practical tasks and be patient with them as they adjust to their new situation. Most importantly, be a good listener!