Before you visit, make sure it’s a good time for your loved one. Ask if the person wants company and insist on a truthful answer. Stopping by with a card or to drop off a meal or gift shows you are thinking of the person. When you do visit, be sure not to stay too long.
If you want to give a gift to your loved one, flowers are lovely but you might want to try to come up with something a bit more personal or even practical. A pair of soft, fluffy slippers or comfortable pajamas will help your loved one feel nurtured. A gift membership to an online DVD rental service will be entertaining. If you happen to have extra frequent flyer miles, you may want to use them to fly in a distant friend or relative that your loved one would like to see.
When you offer to help, be specific. Ask if there is anything in particular
the person needs you to do, but don’t burden your loved one with being the one who always has to come up with something. Think of helpful things you can offer to do that will make life easier for your loved one, such as grocery shopping, bringing over a cooked meal, walking and feeding pets, taking on some household chores, providing transportation, helping with personal needs or grooming, etc.
Never feel pressured to offer words of wisdom or advice. Just listening to your loved one and acknowledging his or her thoughts and feelings can be far more meaningful and helpful than any words you might say.
Don't shy away from physical contact. Some of the most comforting things one person can do for another include hugging, holding hands, a touch on the shoulder, or stroking someone’ s hair.
We all know what it’s like to have a friend or family member who is seriously ill. We want so desperately to help, but we don’t always know how. Even when you are not sure what to say or do, you are helping simply by being a constant, loving presence in the person’s life. Think about it. Knowing you are loved and cared about feels good whether you are facing illness or you are in great health. Having someone in your life who you know you can lean on and count on makes it a lot easier to stay strong in any situation.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you support an ailing loved one: