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Simple Tasks You Can Do to Help a Friend With Chronic Illness

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Throughout the years I have lived with a chronic, undiagnosed condition, many family members and friends would say to me, “I wish there was something I could do.” I know they are referring to finding an answer, a diagnosis, treatment, medicine; however, there are plenty of small tasks in everyday life they don’t think about that could help me tremendously. Instead of saying, “If you need anything, I’m always here,” here are a few things you could offer to do for me:

Cook a meal. I spend countless hours each day preparing all of my own food, which involves standing on my feet in the kitchen. It takes almost all the energy I have some days just to cut and slice all the vegetables to go in the crockpot. I don’t have the strength to the lift and move the crockpot to clean it and dry it. I would love to have someone help cook and clean up.


Clean a bathroom. Bending, stooping and reaching are extremely difficult to do when you are living with chronic illness. Joint pain, muscle tightness, muscle aches and pain intensify sometimes when you try to reach small spaces. It always feels like there are so many tasks involved in cleaning a bathroom: cleaning the tub, the shower, the sinks, the toilet, sweeping the floor, mopping the floor, cleaning the mirrors and disinfecting all surfaces. I sometimes break it up, and clean one thing in the morning and one later in the day. Then the next day, clean the rest of the items I didn’t get to the first day.

Vaccum. Vacuuming requires so much energy. After attempting to vacuum a small area I often feel like I just ran a marathon. The constant motion of pushing and pulling is extremely strenuous.

Do a load of laundry. Carrying the laundry basket up the steps is something I am unable to do on my own. Lifting the clothes out of the washer and into the dryer is a very, very slow process because I cannot lift them all at once. I have to take a few pieces at a time. Once dried, it takes a long time for me to fold them all. By the time I am done folding, my arms are burning. I usually leave them folded in the basket until I regain the energy to walk back and forth across the room to put them all away.

Run an errand to the grocery store or the pharmacy. I didn’t realize how much energy simple, everyday tasks such as going to the pharmacy involved until I had no energy to do such tasks. The steps it takes to walk to the car, walk from the car to the store, and then walk through the store to find what I need are draining. If I am in need of groceries, I only can buy a few at a time so that the bags are not too heavy for me to place in my car.

I feel so impotent not being able to complete these everyday tasks on my own. It’s not always easy to ask for help consistently with basic everyday tasks. If you’re looking to help someone living with chronic illness, and are not sure how you can help, offer to do one of the above tasks and I can assure you they would greatly appreciate it.

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Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.

Originally published: June 1, 2017
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