Supporting a Loved One with Chronic Illness or Disability


Tips to support a loved one with their Chronic Illness or Disability.

  1. 1. Educate yourself on their condition(s). We really love and appreciate when our loved ones take the time to learn about illnesses. Just taking the initiative to learn about what we are going through makes us feel supported.  
  2. 2. Offer to help. But when you offer to help, take it a step further by offering something specific. For example, you can offer to make them a meal, laundry, or do their grocery shopping. We so appreciate when family and friends say, “Let me know if you need anything”, however, that puts the burden on the person who is already struggling. They may have a hard time delegating tasks or even with simply asking for help. Asking for help is hard. Many well-intentioned people offer to help, but when help is offered without a specific goal in mind many of those offers don’t go through. Intentionally putting something on the calendar with a goal sets time aside to meet their need. 
  3. 3. Ask them how they’re doing and feeling. It a small gesture with a big impact. And when you ask, be prepared to genuinely listen, and support them. 
  4. 4. Invite them out. This one may seem like a given, but since many people with chronic illnesses struggle with unpredictable symptoms, it is common to have to back out of get-togethers. Because of this, sometimes loved ones stop inviting them to activities. Remember, most people who are sick want nothing more than to be able to go to events and spend time with friends/family. We still want to feel included, even if we can’t make it—so invite us anyway!
  5. This is probably one of the most important tips on this list, and it is very simple: 
  6. 5. Believe them. It took me over two decades to be diagnosed with the illnesses I was born with. A lot of people didn’t believe the symptoms I was having until I had the diagnoses to prove it. Considering good, affordable healthcare can be difficult to access for many demographics, it is crucial to understand that the undiagnosed are not any less valid than those of us with diagnoses. Most people do not lie about what they’re experiencing with their health. Simply believing them is one of the most compassionate things you can do.

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Syanne Centeno-Bloom is a disability rights activist, Political Science major, social media influencer, writer, and professional model. In her modeling and social media career, Syanne has worked with brands such as Dove, The Pretty Dress Company and Adore Me. Most recently, she appeared in the high fashion editorial magazine, Hunger Magazine, in Christian Siriano. In disability rights activism, Syanne has spoken at events such as Diversify Our Narrative’s DON Conference and advocated for causes to increase accessibility and disability rights. She has also worked directly with brands to create adaptive products and spoken to many podcasts on ableism and disability rights. Syanne is currently in college working towards a political science degree. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, drawing and playing the piano.