Today is Easter, and for the first time in years I have nowhere to be. I’m actually strangely excited about this. Now – that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy being invited to have a nice day with friends. I love that they include me in their celebrations. I have an amazing support system that life would be so much more difficult without. However – the truth is that holidays often come with a fair amount of stress that can make chronic conditions flare while out and about. If you’ll be including guests with chronic illness in your holiday plans, then here are a few things to keep in mind.
Tips for Hosting Guests with Chronic Illness
1) Invite your friends with chronic illness and disabilities! Even if your friend or family member has declined your invitations to dinner or a party in the past, keep inviting them. It’s often not up to us if we can get to a party or not, sometimes our bodies just don’t allow us to be social.
2) If your guest works with a service dog, expect that the canine will attending too. Services dogs are medical equipment, and your friend or family member really does need them by their side. No worries though, because service dogs are trained to be very polite house guests.
3) Cooking? Check in with guests to see if there are any food concerns you should know. Most people with food issues know to come prepared to take care of their own needs, and will tell you not to worry about it. I think it’s nice to make at least one dish that the folks with food issues can partake in. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just be thoughtful.
4) It can be really hard for people to talk about their needs when it comes to chronic illness due to the personal nature. Ask your guest by asking if there is anything you can do. Just knowing that they have your support and understanding will increase their chance of attending.
5) Party is at your house? Make sure your bathroom is clean, and well stocked with toilet paper and clean hand towels. If your chronically ill guest’s symptoms can include vomiting, it’s nice to leave a clean glass and mouthwash on the counter. Take lessons from hotels here and go for travel sized amenities.
6) There are many reasons people with chronic illness may need to lie down for a bit. Take a minute before people arrive to think about where your guest can lie down, and rest if the need arises. Make your bed. If people will also be using your bedroom as the coat room, try to keep one side of the bed clear.
7) Deciding to “go out” to eat may sound nice, but it isn’t always easier for your chronically ill guest. Crowded restaurants can increase stress and anxiety. In addition, when symptoms start to flare in public there is often no place to retreat to, which can make the situation worse. Make sure that you have been clear about your plans for the day. You don’t have to “dumb it down” for us, but make sure we know what to expect.
8) Don’t be offended if your guests with chronic illness have to cancel or make a hasty departure. Of course they would rather be enjoying a “normal” life surrounded by friends and family, however sometimes it is just not possible. Let them cancel or depart with love, and without guilt, so that they can take care of their body. As a result you will become and even more treasured friend.
Most of all – relax and enjoy the company! People living with chronic illness are used to taking care of their own needs. You don’t have to cater to us, or baby us, just include us. The things on this list are just suggestions, because just be supportive and understanding means the world.
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