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Do’s and Don’ts for Talking to a Friend or Family Member With a Serious Illness
When someone you know is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can be hard to know how to act around him or her, or what to say. Your first instinct might be to give that person some privacy and space, but support from family, friends, coworkers, and others can actually help people with serious illnesses. Social support can improve an ill person’s health, quality of life, and adjustment to the diagnosis. Below are do’s and don’ts on how you can be supportive.
Do’s That Can Help
Don’ts That You’ll Want to Avoid
Helping someone through a serious illness can be difficult. But there are practical and thoughtful ways to make it easier. Communicate openly, listen, help out with errands or other tasks, and encourage the person to seek help for depression or anxiety. Knowing what to say or do can help you support friends or loved ones through a difficult time.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise or medication regimen.
Coping with Chronic Illness, Medline Plus:
How To Help a Friend or Loved One Suffering From a Chronic Illness, American Psychological Association:
Living with A Chronic Illness—Reaching Out to Others, Medline Plus:
Strom, J. L., & Egede, L. E. (2012). The impact of social support on outcomes in adult patients with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Current diabetes reports, 12(6), 769-781.
Talking About Cancer, American Cancer Society:
Thompson, T., Rodebaugh, T. L., Pérez, M., Schootman, M., & Jeffe, D. B. (2013). Perceived social support change in patients with early stage breast cancer and controls. Health Psychology, 32(8), 886.
White-Williams, C., Grady, K. L., Myers, S., Naftel, D. C., Wang, E., Bourge, R., & Rybarczyk, B. (2013). The relationships among satisfaction with social support, quality of life, and survival 5 to 10 years after heart transplantation. The Journal of cardiovascular nursing, 28(5), 407.
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