Five ways to communicate with someone with a chronic illness

Five ways to communicate with someone with a chronic illness

Across the UK, the number of people living with multiple chronic illnesses is increasing and the figure is expected to reach 2.9 million this year. Ranging from diabetes to heart disease, chronic illness will affect the life of your friend or loved one, and because you care about them, you are likely to do whatever you can to support them. One way to show that you care and still have a meaningful relationship with them is to engage them continuously, and with that in mind are five effective ways to communicate.

“How are you feeling?”

The best way to find out how your loved one is feeling is to ask them and take time to listen. A person suffering from chronic illness may want to spend their days hiding how they feel or putting on a brave face despite pain or discomfort. Encouraging them to open up about their feelings will help their emotional and mental wellbeing and also help people around them to better understand their needs. At Better Healthcare, our care workers have the relevant skills and knowledge to work with people suffering from a chronic illness and provide competent care accordingly. One common trait among our care workers is being sympathetic and always asking how a patient feels.

“This must be so painful/frustrating for you.”

This statement is an example of ‘active listening’, a communication technique often used in counselling and conflict resolution. Active listening lets the person you are talking know that you empathise. It also shows that you’re attentive and aren’t dismissing their feelings.

“Please don’t feel bad about cancelling our plans.”

Life is full of surprises and every one of us is prone to distraction. We make plans with the best intentions but sometimes we are unable to follow them through. For a person with a chronic illness, changing a plan which they have been looking forward to (like cancelling a trip to the cinema) because they are unwell can bring out a host of emotions, including self-doubt and guilt. In such circumstances, helping them to understand it is OK.

“Can I help with (a particular task)?”

In today’s complex world, many of us value our independence and asking for help doesn’t come naturally. Your friend or loved one may also feel the same, so ask to help with specific tasks instead – tasks like cooking them a meal once a week, taking out the trash, and putting the laundry away are simple and can be done easily. You may also consider getting regular home care help from us. Our care workers are well-trained and have experience in assisting people with a chronic illness. We can help with various daily tasks including washing and dressing, shopping, accompanying the person to the hospital, collecting a prescription on their behalf, and outings among others.

“I haven’t heard from you in a while, how are you?”

Companionship has a positive impact. If someone with a chronic illness hasn’t been in touch in a while, check in on them. They might not be coping particularly well, might have received some bad news or simply feel awkward about getting in touch. Help them fight potential loneliness by letting them know you’re still around for a chat.

Better Healthcare understands chronic illnesses

At Better Healthcare Services, we know that the little things can make a big difference and our home care services are perfect for people who need a helping hand once in a while. If your loved one is struggling on a daily basis, home care might be just the thing they need. We tailor our services to every individual and can visit as often as necessary to help with a range of tasks including:

  • Personal care
  • Washing and dressing
  • Meal preparation and cooking
  • Shopping
  • Outings, companionship and social care
  • Supervising medication and collecting prescriptions
  • Light housework
  • Visits to the hospital and doctor

For more information on how we can help someone who is living with a chronic illness, call Better Healthcare Services today on 0800 668 1234.