Saturday, October 3, 2015

Helping Others When Living with a Chronic Condition

I received a phone call this week from an elderly person with a string of chronic conditions, who lived alone and is home bound. They were very frustrated by providers not responding in the manner they wanted as well as the fact that a volunteer wasn’t available to drive them to medical appointments. The catch was he only wanted to ride in his car, since he didn’t think he could be comfortable in anyone else’s.

 No matter what I suggested, there was something wrong with it. However, there was one organization that was being helpful.  I finally noted to the caller that they had been on the phone with me for an hour and that if they could do that they could volunteer as a “friendly caller” for this local community group.

There was a complete shift in attitude. Suddenly they recognized they could actually do something and have a purpose other than complaining. It required no money expenditure, just a commitment to make some phone calls to other home bound members of the community. The call ended shortly after this idea was suggested and he hung up thanking me for listening and helping, though in truth we didn’t resolve any of his reasons for calling. Instead, we addressed a more core issue-how he could have a sense of purpose.

Humans are social so consequently in order to thrive we need connections and even more importantly, we feel better when we help others.

Ways to help without spending any money.

• Be a friendly caller or “e-mailer” to check on others. Start by talking to condition specific organizations, local agency on aging, or your medical/social services provider.

• Donate gently used items to charity thrift shops. Donate books to your local library. Give away items on Cragslist or Freecycle.

• Shop your local thrift store first for needed items. The money will go for a good cause.

• If you can drive, volunteer to be a driver for those who can’t.

• Cook a double batch of whatever you’re making for dinner and share it.

• Use your birthday and the holidays as a way to ask for donations for your favorite charity.

• Visit people who are home bound.

• Just be there. Listen

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