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  • Writer's pictureSkye White

How to support loved ones with chronic illnesses or high risk conditions who aren’t able to fully resume activities yet

So you’re vaccinated and comfortable resuming a wide range of activities. That’s excellent! It’s been a long time coming! What you might not know is that some folks with chronic illnesses or other high risk conditions are still reluctant to fully resume activities. You may have friends, family, or community members who fall into this category. If you’re safe and comfortable in resuming activities, you may want to use some of your comfortability in supporting those who are not yet able to. Here are a few basics about how to best support folks in your life who are unable to resume daily activities:

Ask what they need

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to what folks with high risk conditions may need. Not only will needs vary based on conditions, but they will also vary from person to person. A good place to start is to first ask if your friend, family member, or community member needs or wants support. If they do need or want support, follow up with asking what kind of support they could use.

Hear their needs without judgement

Suspend your judgement when asking what they need. If you’re able-bodied, you may not often have to think about what it is like to have a disability, chronic illness, or other high risk condition. Come into the conversation with an open mind. Each person is an expert of their own life and experience. Trust them to know what’s best for their health and situation.

Listen and don’t invalidate

If a loved one with a chronic illness or high risk condition is telling you about their experience, their needs, or their comfort level, listen to what they have to say. Don’t invalidate them by arguing their point or offering platitudes like “You’ll be fine” or “Get over it.” Instead, listen to their experience and what support they need. Offer genuine empathy and compassion.

Get creative

Be willing to explore creative ways to get together or that you can support your loved one. This will require a conversation between the two of you both regarding their needs and your capabilities. It might not always be possible for you to give what is needed, but with collaboration, you can likely find something that will work for the both of you.

Take care of yourself too

Even if you are well meaning, you can’t effectively take care of others until you first take care of yourself. When determining what you’re able to do in supporting your loved ones, make sure that your needs are being met too. Our coping skills can be stretched thin when caring for loved ones. Therapy can be a good place to shore up existing coping skills and get extra support. Many therapists continue to offer telehealth sessions. Feel free to reach out to make an appointment.

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