Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can often be a lonely and isolating experience for the patient, so having a strong network of friends and family is vital. If you know someone in your life who is going through this, here are three ways you can help.

Communicate, but respect their privacy

A lot of questions and feelings go through a loved one’s mind after getting diagnosed with a chronic illness. Because of the significant weight of the experience, some patients may not know how to communicate their needs, or even what they need. In times like these, it is even more important for you to take initiative to gently communicate with them without imposing. Let them know that you are there, but be sure to respect their privacy. Often, just knowing that they have your support is enough.

Offer support during emergencies

Especially for those who are older or with a disability, having a chronic illness further limits their ability to be independent. Respectfully step in and be of support if this is the case, particularly if there are no other immediate family members around to help. Manage their affairs, help them with the medical administration needs if you are legally able to do so, arrange transportation for them, and so on. Helping with these little tasks can be a big relief in an already stressful situation.

Be there and be present

Sometimes the best course of action is to just simply be there. Visit your loved one in the hospital even if they spend most of the time sleeping, call them on the phone, and be the person they can count on. They will appreciate your presence.