13 Ways to Help People Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

13 Ways to Help People Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

What if we could live in Mr. Rogers’ RA Neighborhood?

I’ve often heard that people just don’t know what to do to provide assistance to people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In case that’s true, I thought I’d help out by writing a few of them on the blog. Just as a public service, you know…

  1. Ask, “How are you doing?” Listen to the answer.
  2. Bring a meal. Breakfast… lunch… dinner…
  3. Open doors, cans, jars, soda pop, plastic storage containers… without being asked.
  4. Don’t hand them something heavy. Most things are too heavy.
  5. If you notice an RA’er is having trouble walking, offer to walk the dog or get the mail…
  6. Notice whether an RA’er is having trouble walking.
  7. Send a “Thinking of you” card.
  8. Run an errand.
  9. Do a household chore or give a gift certificate for a maid service.
  10. Read a blog about RA, so you can learn about what your loved one is dealing with.
  11. Go to doctor’s appointments as moral support, witness, driver, or physical assistant.
  12. Exchange jokes. Be funny. Pain is a big downer.
  13. Ask an RA’er to tell you her / his story.

What about you?

In your dreams, what would people do for you – because you have Rheumatoid Arthritis?

My imaginary world

Wouldn’t it be fun if we could print out the whole list and email it to every contact? I’d like to give it to all of my neighbors, print it in the bulletin at church… Hey, I’d go so far as to post it on the most important media center in the world: post it on the fridge.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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94 thoughts on “13 Ways to Help People Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • December 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    PLEASE don’t treat me like I am contagious or something. I struggle each day trying to have some kind of normal life, and friends and family avoiding me because they think I’m “sick” makes it worse.

  • July 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I am new to RA, as of the last 8 months. I find it extremely frightening and depressing. I cry a lot! I feel like I am no longer “me” but some disabled version of who I used to be. And when I tell people I am suffering from RA, the typical response seems to be “Oh, that’s terrible, what can you do about it?” and then they change the subject. Is it better to just keep quiet about it? The pain is terrible, and I MISS my evening wine, which was pretty much my only relief until I started taking methotrexate. What do others do about the depression?

  • August 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    If you see I’m having a rough day, ask if you can clean the cat box for me so I don’t have to worry about my 17 yr old kitty getting a uti or making his kidneys worse because he refuses to use his box when it’s too dirty… You could also feed/water him for me.

    Don’t leave things I could trip over in doorways or bathroom floors… just because I can step over the hairdryer cord or a towel during the day when you’re awake, doesn’t mean I can do it when I wake up and need to potty at 2am.

  • February 3, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    THANK you so much for this blog; it is my Godsend…when I am in pain or really down from coping with RA…over 20yrs now..and am not able to take most meds due to liver issues.
    IT is so GOOD to KNOW I am NOT ALONE with this darn disease….hope one day they will FIND a CURE or what causes or something.
    Best to you!!

  • October 10, 2016 at 7:51 am

    I actually feel better every time I read one of your blogs or the entries on this site . I do not live in the United States, I was diagnosed with RD a few years ago but I believe I’ve had it for at least 10 years but nobody diagnosed it , since it is seronegative. I feel very alone with it . I’ve I’m up to “fourth grade”in my medications –that is to say I’ve taken plaquinel , methotrexate , arava and enbril and now Humira. nothings really every ever worked , I’ve always had symptoms– my vision was affected by the plaquinil ; methotrexate made me sick And arava gave me bad liver readings
    the Enbrel stopped working after I got a flu shot and the huMira has made my lymphocytes out of sight high in the sky and so now were trying to decide what to do …

    but whenever I read anything From RA warrior site –it makes me chuckle ,it makes me identify with everyone of you and I say– oh I have that too or that’s interesting and I find it to be a message that is valuable and it makes me feel that I’m not as alone

    thank you thank you thank you

    it’s bad enough every day
    most people say “oh my grandmother has that “. “her oh my mother had that when she was old “. and they don’t understand the disease is rather different than that and therefore we must call it RD and not RA

  • November 25, 2016 at 3:22 am

    Flares are setbacks but hope, gratitude and resilience continue

  • March 28, 2018 at 9:46 am

    I was diagnosed a little over two years ago. The first year and a half the pain wasn’t so very bad and I didn’t have any other symptoms. This past 6 months have really made up for those halcyon days. I had absolutely no idea what RD ( I have learned that, yes, we really need to call this something, anything, else than Rheumatoid “Arthritis.”) was or what it would mean for me. Thank God I found your blog, Kelly. I do not have any real support from family and living way out in the boondocks 30 miles from town doesn’t help, either. My husband has severe COPD and continues to smoke. I am EXPECTED by the family to take care of him without bothering them for help, to say nothing of having the gall to ask for help for myself … after all, it’s just a Little Arthritis! From on the bottom of my heart,thank you, Kelly! May God bless you and your work on behalf of people with RD.


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