10 Easy Ways to Help an HD Family

From the Spring 2000 issue of Hopes & Dreams, newsletter of the Illinois Chapter, Huntington's Disease Society of America.

1. Keep in Touch - A card, call, or visit, mean a great deal and each family member benefits from your efforts.

2. Do Little Things - They Mean a Lot - Make extra portions and drop them off. When running errands, check whether there's anything that the family needs.

3. Give Them a Break - Offer to stay with the HD person so family members can run errands, attend meetings or take a short trip. Even if the caregiver doesn't leave the house, this will provide some personal time.

4. Be Specific When Offering Assistance - Many caregivers find it hard to ask for something specific, so prepare a 'to do' list (e.g., laundry, dusting, etc.). Dedicate some time each week to helping the family tackle some of these tasks.

5. Be Alert - Learn about HD and how it impacts the family. Know how to recognize a problem and respond. Learn about common behaviors and helpful care techniques.

6. Provide a Change of Scenery - Plan an activity that gets the whole family out of the house. Be sure to include the person with HD if the caregiver feels it's appropriate.

7. Learn to Listen - Ask family members how they're doing and encourage them to share. Be available when the caregiver is free to talk without interruptions. You don't need to provide all the answers, just be a compassionate listener.

8. Care for the Caregiver - Encourage caregivers to care for themselves. Pass along helpful tips and information. Offer to attend a support group meeting with them. Contact the HDSA (800-345-HDSA) for support groups in your area.

9. Remember All Family Members - The person with HD appreciates your visits. Spouses, adult children and even young grandchildren are all affected in different ways by a relative's HD, so be attentive to their needs too.

10. Get Involved - There are many things you can do to help families today that may help to prevent further devastation tomorrow. Make a contribution to HDSA or volunteer at your local chapter. Ask your legislator to support funding of research and programs to help HD families. You can make a difference.

Created and maintained by Renette Davis. Send comments to Renette by clicking here.

Created: July 4, 2000
Last updated: Sept. 14, 2010.