Helping someone cope with a Critical Illness

Helping someone cope with a Critical Illness

‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’. This lyric from John Lennon may be a fitting piece of advice to all of us, regardless of our health.

Discovering a loved one or friend has a critical illness can leave us feeling helpless and challenged in how we can assist in equal measure. The prospect of helping someone can be a very sensitive subject, and is one which friends and loved ones can think about handling carefully.

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Helping someone cope with a Critical Illness

Photo Credit: Stevefaeembra


How did you hear about it?

You may have heard about the illness through a friend or relative. How ever you find out, tact goes along when broaching the subject. You can find out if the person concerned wants others to know and to be approached themselves. Are you respecting his/her wishes?


What can you do?

In short, a great deal. If the person is open to help, perhaps the best thing a friend or loved one can do to help at first is simply to talk with them. The person concerned may not like to talk about his/her critical illness so play it by ear first; they may prefer to talk about other things to take their mind of it. Well-wishers can be prepared for some emotions, repressed or otherwise, which may surface if they want to offload some of their fears and anxiety about the illness.


Planning – Helping someone cope with a Critical Illness

If the illness will worsen, the loved one or friend can be assisted by helping to plan for what may lie ahead. This may include, with their blessing, arranging further support and help (medical, emotional and/or palliative) further down the line. It may also involve help through the GP or a doctor, concerning local support groups and charities. Where does the person live? Will they be able to manage on their own? Do have critical illness insurance? Will they need someone to move in with them? Or do they need to move elsewhere?


Help inform others if necessary

With the person or other relative’s permission, individuals can delicately inform others who are allowed to know. Being an informant can be a significant help to save he or she from continually telling others – an obligation which may stir up the same emotions. It can also be of great help to the person to inform others in far-flung UK places or those who live abroad.


Visits and trips away

Perhaps one of the best things people can do to help others who have been diagnosed with a critical illness is to let them know you are there for them. Provided the sufferer is happy to receive guests, they can be visited regularly if house-bound. Offer to help the person with shopping if they have no one else to rely on, and also the housework or chores in the garden if they are incapable. Providing the person is up for it, an idea might be to take them on trips so they can get a fresh perspective and help take their mind off things.


Help and support groups and charities

There is a wide range of help and support groups and charities which are set up to assist those with a critical illness. Whether recommended by a doctor or otherwise, they can provide a helping hand to someone who will (or is) struggling physically or psychologically or both. There are many organisations and charities including ICUsteps, Maggies, ATP and Macmillan Cancer Support who can be a considerable help to those suffering from a critical illness.

Lastly, remember the carer can also think about looking after themselves, especially if they take on the caring or support of others. After all, what help would you be to them if you are out if action too?

This guest post Helping someone cope with a Critical Illness was written by Andy Moore on behalf of Money Matters, the Sainsbury’s Bank blog.






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