Helping Out a Chronically Ill Friend

Updated on March 28, 2011
M.K. asks from San Diego, CA
12 answers

We are good friends with a family in our neighborhood. Our children attend the same school. We have known each other for a couple years. The mom suffers from a chronic condition related to her Pituitary Gland. She is often bedridden and is currently in the hospital.

I wonder how can I support them better when times are tough? I have thought that bringing a meal by is good idea. I would like to extend a helping hand in a way that is thoughtful but not creating more stress for them. I don't want to say, "Well, if you need anything, just give a call." I want to just do something but I'm having a challenging time thinking of what.

Can any of you relate to their situation? And if so, how did your friends help you out? Besides bringing the occasional meal by? Or have any of you been a support to a friend who is ill and what did you do?


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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your excellent advice! I was on my way to Target anyway and called her husband to see if they needed anything. They didn't but they really appreciated my call. I am glad they have a lot of support and your advice was excellent. I wish she could be cured and able to participate in her life more fully but her positive attitude is really inspiring.

She is back at home now from hospital and is a little better.

Featured Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Food is always a good idea. Bring something that can be eaten that day or frozen for later. Also ask specific questions like "does Johnny need a ride to piano lessons? I'd be happy to take him" or whatever you are willing and able to do. Also call before you go to Walmart or the grocery store to ask if they need anything while you are there. Offer to take the kids for playdates.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Some things that I've found people in this sort of situation appreciate:

(1) Offer to do errands. You can call and let her know that you'll be doing some errands the next day, and ask whether you might pick up anything she needs at the places where you'll be, or make a stop somewhere else while you're out. If she declines the first time, call again another week. She'll have time to think about it and realize things that it would be helpful to have you do. If she takes you up on it, call her and let her know places you're going and see if you can get things that she needs there. Don't pay for the things for her, or she'll feel awkward asking again.

(2) Invite the children over to your house and on special outings occasionally. This helps her and the children. She can relax knowing that they are in someone else's care and are having some fun, and they benefit from being out of the house where sickness is bound to put a damper on things, and lets them just be kids for a little while. Their mother probably has little energy for taking them anywhere fun. Let her know that your kids enjoyed it so much more having her kids come along to help her feel less like a charity case.

(3) If the husband is overburdened taking care of her, consider having your husband (or teenager if you have one) come and mow their lawn or rake their leaves once in awhile to take the load off. This will free him up a little to give her some more attention or have some free time for himself.

(4) Offer to help put out their holiday decorations at Christmas time, and then take them down afterward.

(5) Food is always a thoughtful gesture, but sometimes people with medical conditions have diet restrictions or find only certain foods to be appealing. On the other hand, feeding the rest of the family helps as well. Make it easy on them by using a disposable container and making something that can go in the freezer for use on a night when cooking will be difficult.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Make a meal that freezes well, never stop by unanounced with a meal instead once a week you can make a meal for them and set a certian day (every tuesday or whatever works for you and the family) to drop it off. If they turn it down then ask if there is anything else like light cleaning that you could help with. For me I have noticed that even family they really want to do a lot on there own, what works best for them, and they got tons of meals made for them and had way too much to food around. Plus half the stuff they could not eat due to food sesitvities or did not freeze well so ended up being wasted.

In the end the best thing you can do is be there is listen, bring a good bright spirit when you visit. Ask what you can do, offer what you do well, and respect if they say they are ok.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

When I was off my feet for an extended period of time both of my children were young. One of the kindest things I can remember anyone doing, and there were many, was that one of the ladies who worked with my mom went to Dairy Queen and bought ice cream and all kinds of toppings for the kids to make sundaes with. It touched me especially because at that point I couldn't do the little things like take the kids out for ice cream, and nothing made me happier than seeing my kids happy. I think moms who are ill worry so much about the kids and how they are feeling, and it is hard to do special little things for them, so knowing they would still have little treats from time to time meant a lot.
It is hard not to feel almost guilty that other people are going out of their way to help you. Sometimes if you can just call her and say, "Hey! I am running to the store. Is there anything I can pick up for you?" That way it doesn't seem like you are making a special trip just to get what she needs. Also, remember as holidays and birthdays come up that she might not be able to go get things she would normally get for people. You could offer to stop by and help her plan out Easter baskets or a birthday cake.
It is wonderful that you are so willing to help your neighbor. God bless in your efforts.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Always be specific w/ what you can do. I am going to start rambling now

when you go o the store ask her if you can pick anything up-and if you can afford it, dont take her $.

take kids to and from school

offer to have the kids over after school

ask if she needs a ride to a dr appt

do her laundry-tell her-leave a basket on your porch and I will wash it for you. wash it, fold it, and put it back on he porch the same day

if you could do that daily for her that would be great.

dinners are great-what about breakfasts? or stuff for the kids to pack in their lunches?

gas gift cards

gift cards to places to eat near the hospital so when the family visits they can go eat

I can go on and on. the worst thing is to leave it open ended..."let me know if you need any thing" is lame. She ha enough to worry about.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Margaret,

Your friend is lucky to have you as a neighbor. When things are tough I think it's nice to do whatever you can to help out; even the smallest thing can be a huge help to someone in need.

Our neighborhood friend had a very sick husband so I offered to make the kids' lunches for them. It was not that much harder to make a couple of extra brown bagged lunches and it saved the mother time in the morning

I would certainly tell her that you'll be doing whatever you'll be doing but it would also be nice to make sure you're doing what she'd like you to do (when I made the lunches, there were certain things her kids did/did not like).

Also, if you are in a position to watch her kids after school or on the weekend, I know it is nice for the ill person to have some time to themselves or just with their spouse.

Take care, and bless you for helping out another in need.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Being sick can be lonely. My 14 yr old has pituitary/adrenal disease. She has a hard time finding the energy to do ANYTHING. Chronic fatigue, dizzyness, nausea, failing sight, anxiety, insomnia, constant pain, ..these are only a FEW of the MANY terrible symptoms these people face daily.

A freindly encouraging card, letting the person know you are thinking about them, something light hearted, funny- they need that emotional "break' to just laugh. And also what the other ladies said was great too. Take the kids on outings- great idea. These ill people dont have the enrgy they should for their families- they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

When you know it's a tough time, simply call ahead and say, "hey, I don't want you to have to worry about dinner tonight (tomorrow); so I'll be bringing it by about 5"
Make some casseroles that can be frozen, so all she has to do is pop them in the oven.
Or assemble a crockpot meal in a crockpot bag and drop it off in the morning so all she has to do is put it in the crockpot.
Offer to transport her kids to school.
Call and offer to pick up a load of laundry to do for her.
Have her kids over for playdates to give her more rest time.
Ask her what her biggest challenge is and how you can help.
You are so sweet to help, good luck and God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Hello, Is is possible to give the children a ride to and from school? Or maybe have a play date once a week?
K. K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I've never been down for that long but I did have 2 bedrest pregnancies. I appreciated meals and help driving my kids.

My aunt had Parkinsons and I would run errands for her on my days off: getting her meds from the pharmacy, picking up miscellaneous items from the store.

You might ask her what her needs are. If she has been sick for awhile, she should be used to asking for help and not embarrassed to tell you what she really needs. Let her know when you're available and for how long so she will know which task she can pass along to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

These are all terrific ideas! One thing I might add if you can afford it (or maybe have a few friends help share the cost) would be to pay for an hour or two of housekeeping. Nothing makes me feel better and less stressed than knowing that at least that overwhelming chore is done. Maybe a little neighborhood clean-up? Spend a couple hours with some neighbors doing their yard, spring cleaning, washing a car, etc., and you could make it fun with a pot luck afterward....?
It is very kind of you to care for your friend!



answers from Los Angeles on

Cooking is a great idea it would relieve a lot of stress. Also, can you get the neighbors together and once a week take turns cleaning the house, going to the market, picking up meds, helping with the kids (maybe over night). But you are sweet to try to help

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