How to help a friend who’s ill ...

While we want to help when a friend or family member is seriously ill, it’s difficult to know just what to do – so we often do nothing. Sami Papacek, wellness program development manager at Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing, suggests three welcome ways to lend a helping hand.

First, take the initiative to make contact and make something happen. Whether it’s a thoughtful gift or an offer to provide a service, Papacek said families facing illness often feel they don’t want to impose on others. So it’s up to you to make the offer.

Second, it’s important to keep in mind that gifts like candy or plants might be prohibited from the homes of ill patients for health reasons. “I also urge people to think about basic life needs when thinking of a gift,” she said. “Running errands for the person or helping with household chores can be more welcome than a physical gift.”

Finally, if you choose to give a gift, think beyond the disease. After all, sick people know they’re sick. Giving a gift that draws attention to the disease – such as a book about the sickness or a jewelry mentioning the illness – might be counterproductive. Instead, think of a gift that might bring joy such as warm clothing, funny movies or comfy throws or pillows. You might consider giving a certificate for a relaxing massage or spa service.

Whatever you decide, remember that a visit or phone call might be just as welcome.

... a tip of the hat for this article to KU Med Center


  1. Have you seen the meal train website? Friends and community can sign up to take meals on certain days, and it had info like mealtimes and dietary concerns.

    1. Have not seen it Heather. Sounds like a great website.


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