How to Help when a Loved One Is Having an RA Flare

When a loved one is having a flare, it might not be obvious how to help—especially when that loved one does not ask for assistance. Of course, almost everyone would appreciate some kind of help, care, or comfort during a flare.

The first option is to ask that loved one what they would most like help with, of course. However, read on to find out what community members most appreciate when they are having a flare.

Helping a friend or loved one during an RA flare

To start a discussion on this topic, we reached out on the RheumatoidArthritis.net Facebook community and asked, “When experiencing a flare, what is the best thing someone can do to help?”

More than 300 community members answered. Here is what was shared.

Help with physical chores and personal tasks

One of the most common responses is that people living with RA need help with physical chores, both around the house and personal tasks. Sometimes the need is for help putting away laundry or finishing a chore that needs to get done that day. Others need help with taking off shoes and the like, to help get themselves done with the day. In many cases, what people need most is “another set of hands.”

“My man is good at listening and just ‘knowing’ what I need. He brings the laundry up from the basement because going up and downstairs is too painful. He will do the cooking and cleaning because he knows I had all I could handle getting through the day at work. He understands that my body needs time to heal and he gives me that time, without judgment, without criticism.”

“Not asking me to carry heavy things long distances or move furniture. It also helps to not get upset with me for not being able to stand in long lines. Showing empathy is also nice.”

“Help put on my socks and shoes. Help basically with anything and everything. I feel so sorry for my husband and kids but appreciate them immensely.”

Dinner or cooking a meal

Many community members shared that one of the most helpful things is someone bringing food. This saves someone’s joints from the work of making a meal. Plus, some folks are on special diets and cannot order takeout as easily as they would like.

“For me during a flare, the best thing someone can do for me is prepare a meal. It is a huge help.”

“My husband brought me cups of tea, which I could not hold due to my hands, and he held the cup so I could drink. The last time a flare this bad happened was 25 years ago and he stayed home with me for week, letting me sleep and get better. Knew I kept him for a reason. Kindness and caring go a long way.”

“Bring me dinner and leave me be.”

Company and good conversation

For others, the thing that would be most helpful is company. Talking to friends in person or on the phone can distract from the pain. Plus, if they tell jokes or funny stories, that can help someone feel better by laughing or just hearing something uplifting. One member even shared that asking a friend to talk about golf helps because it lulls them to sleep. Whatever works!

“I am never too proud to ask for help when needed, but what I can use is company when I am sitting in my comfy lift chair with my soft blanket. All the latest gossip and jokes and silly talk always make me feel better.”

“I used to ask a friend to tell me about his golf game. You know how a golfer can go on and on and on. Well, eventually I would go to sleep and forget the pain!”

“Distract me! Acknowledge my flare and then pretend nothing is any different! As an example, I have a group of friends "The Bingo Babes" and we play bar bingo every other week. I think I have only had to cancel one time but for other flares, after they ask how I am. I say, “So-so.” They say they are sorry to hear that, and then the dinner, the conversation, and bingo goes on and for a few hours. I sit and pretend and try to ignore the pain! Laughter helps way more than crying!”

We want to say thank you to everyone in the RA community who shared what works for them. We appreciate all your shares!

What are some ways in which others have helped you during a horrible RA flare? Share in the comment section below!

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