Most people who file for disability don’t do so willingly. They’ve done everything they can to find a way to get their health – and their lives – back.
So if you have a friend who has a short-term disability, they’re really going to need your support.
While they’re out of work, they’re dealing with healing from their physical issues. On top of their health struggle, it’s probable that they’re going through some emotional and financial concerns, too.
You can’t take the pain away for them, but you can be there in other ways. Use these suggestions as a guide to be supportive while your friend is recovering from a disability.
1. Offer to Help
There’s a fine line to tread here. Your friend doesn’t want to feel like a burden, but they could definitely use some assistance.
The trick is to offer your help in little ways that don’t seem like a big deal but add up. Going to the grocery store? Ask if they need milk or eggs (or anything else). Running errands near their child’s school? See if it would help if you dropped them off or picked them up.
Keep in mind, they might not be willing to accept any help at all at first. Don’t give up. Eventually, they’ll need you, or they’ll recover and get back to doing things on their own.
Even if you never lift a finger for them, the fact that you were always willing to step up to the plate will mean a lot.
2. Check In On Them
Whether your friend already has a team of loved ones caring for them or is alone, it’s up to you to check in with them regularly.
We often assume someone has a lot of support because they have a big family or a lot of friends. What happens, though, is that all of those people assume the same thing, and no one is around consistently.
You may be the only person who can make your friend laugh or the only one they trust to be honest with or ask for help.
Try to avoid sending a text unless it’s a “thinking of you” quick message in between calls and visits. Real social interaction is crucial in a person’s mental and physical recovery.
3. Help Them to Get a Handle on Their Finances
Are you close enough to your friend that they’ll talk to you about money woes? If so, one of the things you can do is to offer to help them get clarity on their financial situation.
Often, when we keep a worry in our minds without verbalizing it, it becomes the stuff of nightmares.
Get a Handle on Money Concerns
A person on disability concerned about the lack of income coming in may need to get a clear picture of the reality. It will serve one of two purposes: They’ll see it’s not as bad as they thought, or they’ll feel more in control as they come up with solutions.
Review their budget with them and offer suggestions if you can about where they can cut back or add extra income. Things that sound like common sense to you could be something your friend didn’t think or know about.
Go over their disability policy and look for things they might not be aware of, like riders. For instance, if they had a COLA rider (Cost of Living Adjustment), it could give them some peace of mind in case their disability extends longer than expected.
Letting your friend talk their financial concerns out with someone who will listen and not judge removes that toxic stress. They won’t feel as helpless and alone because of your support.
4. Invite Them Out
Going to a movie? Dinner? A party with friends? Never assume your friend is going to say no just because they always have. They want to know they’re welcome, even if they don’t go.
It could be that their concern is due to their disability. Before you plan an activity, think about what would help them feel more comfortable.
Will they need to use a wheelchair or a cane? Look for accessible places where this will be easier for them. A hiking trip or museum with lots of steps is something you could save for another time.
The other thing to be cautious of is deciding for your friend. It’s common, but not a good idea, to predetermine what they’ll be okay with and what they won’t. Instead of planning an activity and assuming what they can do, why not ask?
Tell your friend you want to get out of the house with them, and see what they’re interested in doing. You may need to have a few suggestions handy, but giving them some control goes a long way in boosting their comfort level.
Someone on a short-term disability may already be struggling with a lot of mental issues. They don’t want to feel like a burden, so they’re not going to ask for help.
As their friend, you hate to see them struggle at all. With a disability, stress is a combination of physical, emotional, and financial. Your pal needs you, but they don’t need you making them feel like an invalid or hassle.
Use these suggestions as the best ways to be supportive and help them through this tough time.