Although the emotional impact of living with a chronic disease differs from one person to another, it is often quite substantial. Those who are not living with heart failure may not fully understand the challenges of living with the condition.

Supportive relationships can be critical to managing health. The support we receive from those who are close to us can be a powerful force for well-being. 

Often, to form or strengthen supportive relationships, we must learn how to describe our needs and ask for help.

Asking For Help

It can be very difficult to ask for help or to accept help when it is offered. 

We may be more comfortable offering help than receiving it, or we may worry that we are asking too much and becoming a burden on others. We may also feel hesitant because of disappointing responses we have received in the past when we needed help. 

Try these simple strategies to make it easier for people to support you: 

  • Have a mental list of practical things that others can do that would be useful to you. The more specific the better. 
  • When someone asks if there is anything they can do, be ready with a specific request like: “I need someone to stay with my elderly father between 1-3 pm on Thursday afternoon so that I can go to an appointment. Is that possible for you?”
  • Always be clear and detailed. Clarity will enable the person offering to be truly helpful while making you feel supported.
  • With practice, learning how to ask for and accept help gets easier, and can even become empowering.

Giving Help and Support

If you are a caregiver or someone who provides support, remember that emotional support is just as important as practical help. 

Listening well and doing your best to understand someone’s needs can be even more helpful than having the right answers (especially for problems that don’t have ready answers!). If you listen well, your loved one is better able to communicate what they need, even if it is just a hug.