In a recent survey of over 1000 adults, 82 percent knew someone with a chronic illness. Only 34 percent, however, were willing to offer advice to their chronically ill friend about handling their self-care.
About the same number of brave souls were up for debating politics and religion with friends of opposing philosophies, traditionally taboo subjects for a conversation around the Thanksgiving table.
In contrast to their reticence about chronic disease, many subjects were more than happy to give advice that might be interpreted as quite personal in nature. A full sixty-five percent of them were willing to discourage their friend from buying a certain house, and 48 percent were willing to advise their friend against taking a particular job. Forty-one percent were even willing to tell their friend about an unfaithful spouse.
Why this shying away from such an important topic as chronic illness? The reasons ranged from believing that the friend had the disease under control, to not wanting to seem rude or nagging, to not thinking that their friend would listen, to not believing that the issue was important.
What if you want to feel comfortable talking to friends about their diabetes? Well, you can start by educating yourself about their illness and then talk to them about their goals. Just take it easy, and think twice about blurting out that news about the wandering spouse.
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Source: Medline Plus, October 2007