Supporting Loved Ones

This weekend I’ve been celebrating my dads birthday. It was great to catch up with both my parents. We had food, drink and a good laugh.

My dad currently has a dodgy hip and he hast hurt his back which is affecting his walking. He is awaiting an appointment, but he is badly hobbling around. Thankfully after a number of us telling him, he starting using a walking stick around the house for support.

We had a fashion show of walking sticks, I’ve never known one person to have so many walking sticks. He has accumulated them over the years from various people who have since passed. Thankfully, he found one that worked for him. And guess what? He found it supportive and discovered it was just what he needed.

But it was just what was needed to ease his pain and help him.

Are you in need of support, whether it’s a walking stick, financial support or mental health support? Are you perhaps being stubborn or are too afraid to ask?

Maybe you don’t think your problems are as serious as others.

If you think someone is struggling it might be difficult to ask them if they need help. So how can you approach it if you are unsure.

Whilst this conversation may be difficult for you, remember this isn’t about you. It’s about your friend or colleague or relative. It may feel awkward but wouldn’t you want someone to chat to you if you required support but didn’t know how to ask.

Here are five questions of support to ask:

  1. What can I do to support you? Is there something you can do which will make a difference to the individual and their situation? Do they want to talk things through? The support you are giving could be lending your ear and time. It could be as simple as that, however, it doesn’t mean it makes it any easier for the person requiring your help to openly speak with you. Being there and listening to what they have to say allows them to get things off their chest. Sometimes talking things through and not expecting anything back, no words of advice, no analysing can help the individual get their thoughts, feelings and details out, helping them to process what is happening and perhaps come to a solution themselves.
  2. What will help you in this moment? Is there something you can do in this moment to help the individual? What do they need? Similar to the above, except this is more in the short term and what is needed now right at this moment in time. Do they need a walking stick? Where can they get one from, or perhaps they need to speak to a doctor or make an appointment to speak to a financial advisor. Maybe they want you to help them work out what the next step would be.
  3. What action can they take now? Similar to the above, but this is what they can do to help themselves. Maybe they need to say they need help out loud and then contact a therapist or doctor and make the appointment. It could be they throw the cigarettes/alcohol/cake/chocolate away and start working on a healthier version of themselves. But that isn’t easy. You could do it for them, however, they have to do it themselves and truly feel they are ready to take this next step.
  4. Who is best placed to help? You can be the person to help them in the first instance to find the person they need. Do they need to speak with a doctor? If so can you make the appointment for them? Do they want you to go with them? Or maybe it is about researching the best local therapist who is suited to what the individual needs. Does the individual require one to one help or would a support group be a good option? If money and debt are a problem, would speaking to someone from their bank be a good place to start. They will have contacts for debt management and can help them make a proper plan and feel less stressed about their future.
  5. What needs to change going forward? What is it in their behaviour or attitude that needs to adjust to help them move on? This can be very daunting. They may well know what needs to change, however, they may not be keen to do so. If they can understand by changing their diet or exercise or even asking when they need help or when they are unsure, then it will be to their benefit. If you want to have a healthy diet after years of eating sugary sweets and chocolate, then continually buying those things are really not going to help you do that. Perhaps they need to start reducing their consumption rather than going cold turkey. A small change in the right direction is better than no change. They need to go slow and at their pace. Rushing changes will only make it harder to stick to going forward.

No matter who you are helping, the best thing you can do is be there for them when they need the support the most. It can be difficult to see someone you love struggle. But they will undoubtedly be thankful you are there for them at this time.

Take care and look after you, but don’t forget to support your loved ones when they need it, even if they don’t realise it at the time.

Love Emma xx

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