I envision this to be a resource page loaded with specific ideas about helping dwellers (or anyone else needing encouragement or help). How encouraging even little things can be. If you have additions to this list, please use the contact form.
You can find hundreds of specific ideas in Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend. Also see the posts with the tag “Ideas for Helping.”
Note from Connected Carole: The following quote was sent to me by a middle-aged person with early-onset Parkinson’s Disease regarding an article written by people wishing to help the chronically ill. This person’s feelings bear out the caveat: know your friend! If your friend doesn’t want help, respect his wishes. If she’s a private person, honor her. Most people need and want help, but some don’t. Value your friendship and act accordingly.
“Personally, I would not like the suggestions in this article listed under “What can we do?” done to me. I realize I am different than most people on this topic, and the suggestions are very good for most people, but for myself, I would actually like to keep my disability invisible as much as possible, and don’t want attention drawn to it. I have developed some ways to hide adjustments I have had to make to some daily activities due to changes in balance and coordination, so that people won’t notice.”
A friend in a wheelchair
- Help clear a path through a crowd.
- Open doors.
- Walk beside her chair to carry on a conversation.
- Get down to his level, if possible, when talking to him.
Writing Christmas cards
- For someone who has trouble writing.
- Address the envelopes.
- Sign the cards.
- Maybe write a note that she dictates.
- Plant a hassle-free plant to look at, then weed if necessary.
- Mow lawns.
- Prune trees.
- Rake leaves.
- If you know him: “How are you coping today?”
- If she’s a close friend: “Do you want company while you wait for test results?”
- Be careful what you say.
- Make a phone call
- Send an email.
- This can be as simple as vacuuming one time.
- It can be as time consuming as doing weekly cleaning.
- Organize a group to do a one-time deep cleaning project.
- Organize a group for ongoing weekly cleaning.
- If 4 people participate, it would only take one time a month for each one.
Your friends have to move. Can you help?
- Help her pack dishes and books.
- Help him get the boxes to the truck.
- Help clean the house when it’s empty.
- Offer to drive, if needed.
- Enable him to run errands.
- Take her to doctor appointments.
- Take him shopping.
- Take her out for fun.
- Do an oil change.
- Check tires.
- Make, or arrange for, needed repairs.
- Let him vent.
- Accept what she says about her illness, even if you find it hard to believe.
- Observe him to see what he needs, then get him a gift certificate at an appropriate store.
- Get something just for fun!
Cooking special meals and/or desserts
- Use containers that don’t need to be returned, and say so.
- Make cinnamon rolls for a special breakfast.
- Organize a group to make a special meal, like Thanksgiving.
- Make a special dessert.
- Order in a meal.
- To organize meals by a group, see Take Them A Meal.
- Help them have a clean car.
- Get a group together for a fun time.
Big Use of a Talent
The headline reads: "Inspired by husband, NC woman designs adaptive clothing for disabled; strikes deal with major retailers." This article tells the story of a wife whose 48 year old husband with Parkinson’s had trouble finding good looking clothing that was easy to use. So she designed a line of clothing for him. She ended up selling the line to retailers, so now many disabled people can dress nicely while still getting into the clothing easily.
What a way to use a talent to help people!
Hundreds of ideas
Lisa Copen came up with 505 for her book (Beyond Casseroles). Help is limited only by your imagination, time, money, and caring. Join the team helping someone navigate their storms by looking around you for a person to help; then do it.
What people need depends on their specific conditions. Maybe she’s capable of weekly housework but not deep cleaning. Maybe the spouse is capable and desiring of fixing things. Maybe he’s adapted his environment to take care of himself. So … know the person. It’s often safest to ask first. Remember, they need to be as independent as possible. However, for many, total independence isn’t achievable and help is needed. Needed help isn’t always appreciated - especially in the beginning - so be thoughtful in how you broach the subject.
And whatever you do
Please don’t say, “Just call me if you need something.” Though you mean it, the disabled person is not likely to follow up. Think about it: would you? If you’ve had to ask for help repeatedly, would you voluntarily ask again? A better thing to say, “When you need to go to the doctor, please give me a call. I’d love to take you. And I’m free most of the time.” That conveys your desire to help in a specific way, and that you’re able to help.”
Enjoy the trip
as you come up with ways to help and a manner to achieve it that doesn’t demean us, even unintentionally. We love you and appreciate any help.
We’d love to have you join Sharing the Load Ministries. We only ask that you commit to helping someone. It can be as involved or simple as you’re able. See the commitment card at Sharing the Load.