12 Nice Things You Can Do for Someone in Pain
What can I do to help?
If you care about someone in chronic pain, you probably want to help. But many people aren’t quite sure how to go about it, and sometimes a general offer of "Let me know what I can do" isn’t enough.
So we asked four people affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) about the nicest things that friends and family have done for them.
If you have a loved one with RA or any other chronic disease, read on. You’ll be sure to find a few new ways to show you care.
Make shots less painful
Even though he never wound up giving her the shots, Gallo says, just having him there made a big difference. "For some reason, it really took the pressure off," she says. "It wasn’t as scary."
Support their dietary choices
Her husband stands by her on the food front, too.
"He not only was willing to eat with me, but he also learned about those things too, so he wouldn’t bring home frozen yogurt," she says.
She took some group walks when her knees were just too sore to keep a faster pace, and people would give her a shoulder to lean on when she couldn’t walk on her own.
She’s also appreciated people "not laughing when I’m taking stairs on my bottom," not to mention "waiting patiently when buttons and hooks are just too fiddle-y."
Make a bed or two
"When I was in heaps of pain, the thought of changing fitted sheets and sorting out the buttons or snaps on a duvet cover made me turn cold," says Nina McLean, a 31-year-old midwife in Melbourne, Australia.
Don’t ask, just do it
"Don’t just offer help," says Jean P., 52, a church secretary from Illinois. "We will probably refuse. Come over with a vacuum and mop in hand and ask where to start."
Learn and believe
It’s important to know that a person with RA may not look sick but still be in pain.
"It wasn’t until I was practically lame from hip pain that people saw I had an issue," says Jean, who fondly remembers when a friend researched RA on her own until she "truly understood" what Jean was going through.
Make a meal
When you’re making a run to the grocery store or farmers’ market, ask if your neighbor with RA needs anything. Or if you see something you know she’d like, just pick it up for her.
Help with the kids
"Take our kids at times and allow us to truly rest," says Jean.
When she volunteered at her children’s school, Whitehead appreciated it when people chose jobs for her that weren’t physical, so she wouldn’t feel left out; she also welcomed friends who would help her by lifting her children in and out of the car on the way to and from nursery school.
Give a lift
Lend a hand
When someone is having trouble with their hands and fingers, Gallo adds, "any sort of help with writing or typing could be huge."
You could even offer to dry someone’s hair for them if they have to struggle just to lift their arms.
Jane Snyder, 47, a stay-at-home mom from Kansas, sewed heating-pad holders for her 17-year-old daughter to wear around her wrists. She made them in two sizes to match the heating packs she found, and they would stay warm for 20 hours or more at a time.
"They were made with love because I really don’t sew, but they worked," she says. "I even used Care Bear material to make it better!"
Ease into exercise
"It really can change a person’s whole mind-set about the disease and provide some serenity," she adds.