How You Can Help Someone With Arthritis

Small Things Can Make a Big Difference

Carrying groceries to help someone with arthritis.
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When you consider that people have different personalities, different levels of disease severity, and different needs, it requires some thought to figure out how you can best help someone with arthritis. It goes without saying, with greater severity of arthritis, there is a greater need for help. Yet, those are often the people who resist asking for help because more than anything, they don't want to be a bother.

Here are 10 suggestions for how you can help someone with arthritis, and hopefully these will provoke some ideas of your own.

1- Be a supportive loyal friend or loving family member. Be the one who listens. Be the one they can trust with their innermost feelings. Be that person who makes them realize they are never alone.

2 - Offer to make lunch or dinner. If you are preparing the meal in their kitchen, plan to do clean-up as well. Don't leave a mess! If it is easier, you could prepare the food in your kitchen, bring carryout, or have something delivered. How you pull it together doesn't matter. Just know, having a meal prepared is both helpful and a treat for someone with arthritis.

3 - Acquire a basic knowledge of arthritis so that when your friend or loved one shares what is happening or how they are feeling, you will understand. Talking to someone who understands is an enormous help. Talking to someone who has taken the time to try to understand is a blessing.

4 - Avoid talking about unproven remedies. For that matter, don't offer medical advice of any kind. Leave the doctoring to the professionals. Even with the best of intentions, unsolicited advice crosses into territory that should be reserved for a doctor and his patient.

5 - Anticipate what your friend or loved one might need. When running errands for yourself, call to ask if you can pick anything up for them.

Or, you could invite them to go along which would get them out of the house and allow them to grab what they need.

6 - Clearly state that you are willing and able to help. Let them know that they simply need to ask for your help. Make it clear that you are happy to help and that they should not wait for you to ask what they need. Your willingness must be viewed as a given.

7 - Observe their environs for things that may need to be done. Look specifically for cumbersome jobs or things they may have difficulty completing by themselves. Most often, this will involve tasks that require lifting or reaching, such as hanging pictures, changing the cat litter, carrying loaded laundry baskets. 

8 - Encourage positive actions that could benefit their overall well-being. I'm not suggesting you become their life coach. In this case, being subtle is likely best. Rather than preaching the benefits of exercise, ask your friend or loved one if they want to join you for a walk. Bring over a fruit basket. Buy them a smoothie. Lend them a book that inspires.

9 - Learn how to give an injection. Some patients with inflammatory types of arthritis are treated with injectable drugs. Some people hate giving themselves an injection, even though auto-injectors make it quite simple.

If your friend or loved one loathes the process, and if you are willing, volunteer for this task which they consider unpleasant.  

10 - Offer to drive. If and when you are available, offer to drive your friend or loved one where they need to go. It can be a big help -- especially, if they don't feel well enough to drive themselves. Even if they are not feeling poorly, it's nice to sit, relax, and enjoy the ride rather than stress about the traffic. When you reach your destination, drop them off close to the door, too!

The Bottom Line

Learning when to step in and help versus when to stand back can be a delicate, balancing act.

It likely won't go perfectly. Start gradually until you feel your help is accepted and welcome. And remember, don't smother!

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