Dealing with a Sick Parent: Ways to Support Your Friend

elderly woman at the doctor's office

It’s challenging to help a friend with a sick parent. No matter the specifics of their circumstances, they will have their physical, mental, and emotional toll. When a friend reaches out to you for support, don’t be too eager to jump into the scene.

While problems don’t come with manuals for friends like you, you can do something that will have a positive impact.

What Do They Need?

Don’t assume you know what they need. People experience situations differently. One friend might like to keep in constant communication with you, while another wouldn’t respond for days to your message.

They’ll rarely come up to you with a list of how to support them. When you ask, their answers might be menial tasks they can’t do. It can vary from buying food to walking their dog.

Make to offer a helping hand when you have the time and the means. You can also specify what you’re capable of helping with if you’re familiar with their schedule. Can you pick up their kids from school? Do they need someone to drive them to Myrtle Beach to inquire about personal caregiver services? It’s better to coordinate with them rather than exert time and effort into something that doesn’t help.

woman feeling sad

How Are They Feeling?

People with ill parents can find it difficult to process their emotions at any given stage of their dilemma. When they’re not in touch with how they’re feeling, they’re more prone to mood swings and bad habits.

Schedule meals with them in places where they feel safe and at peace. It’s their chance to pause from the everyday struggle of their reality.

Prepare yourself to listen. Often, these people need to talk more than they need to hear your advice. Your good intentions might backfire if you insist on your opinions. Reserve them for critical moments and only when asked.

Do They Need Space?

It’s frustrating when you’re doing your best, but your friend is either unresponsive or ungrateful.

Offer your help expecting that you won’t be hearing accolades or receiving gestures of appreciation for being a faithful friend. Likely, they don’t have the energy for anything else right now.

It will be good to familiarize yourself with the many ways people cope. Some seek support, while others turn to physical recreation to vent their stress. Methods you need to watch out for are denial, self-blame, and unhealthy venting to the rest of their family, and maybe even to you.

Take a time-out if this happens and remember why they’re behaving this way. It’ll not help them further if you try to address this while you’re also emotionally charged by their actions.

Defining Friendships

You don’t need to solve all their problems to be a good friend. Sometimes, you’re more helpful to them when you know your boundaries and don’t force yourself to their situation. Remember that it’s a family matter, and the best thing you can do as a friend is to be with them whenever and whichever means appropriate.