“Let us know if there’s something we can do for you.”
“Call me if I can be of help.”
“Is there anything you need?”
These are common phrases made by well-meaning friends. Friends want to help when someone has a family member in the hospital. They want to be of service when someone is dealing with a chronic illness or a disability. These friends are genuine.
But let me make a suggestion. Instead of giving a general offer of help, just choose something that needs doing and do it. There are things that always need to be done. Maybe the family member is capable of the task, but anything that a friend can help out with makes life easier and more manageable.
Below is a list of ideas that can offer assistance. Don’t ask if it’s needed, just do it. Your friend will be glad you did.
1. Drop off a meal. Call beforehand and let them know you’re bringing it. Consider bringing it in something that can be frozen for later. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or homemade. Any meals will be greatly appreciated.
2. Purchase restaurant gift cards. Fast food gift cards are a great gift for a busy caregiver. You can deliver them by hand or drop them in the mail.
3. Mow the lawn. Either just show up with your mower or call ahead and let your friend know that you will be there to mow at a certain day and time. Mowing the lawn is an easy thing to do and will lighten the load of responsibilities for the caregiver.
4. Ask to assist with the laundry or the housekeeping. You can offer to pick up the laundry and deliver it the next day, or you can offer to come do the laundry at their home. If appropriate, offer to come clean for a couple of hours, or offer to pay someone to come clean.
5. Purchase gas cards. You could even offer to come get their car and fill it up for them. Even running their car through the carwash would be a thoughtful gesture. An added bonus: check to see if the oil needs to be changed and offer to take care of that.
6. Do the grocery shopping. This is time-consuming and tiring for a person who is busy caring for a loved one. Another idea would be to buy some essentials and deliver them to your friend.
7. Offer to babysit or entertain the other children or family members. Go to a movie, the park, or to get shaved ice.
Modify this list to fit your needs. When someone says, “Can I help?” hand them the list. Or just tell them specifically what would be most helpful. It’s a win-win for you both.
For more tips on getting through daily life, check out the Family Support pages on this website.
The mother of a child who is nonverbal tells the story of a day when her daughter made some crazy demands, and the mother obliged.
After many years of the isolated, parallel play, my son finally discovered friends.