When a friend is sick for a long time—or even if the flu drags on—we want to help out, but aren’t sure how. Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Offer to go to the doctor with her.
Just your being with her may be a big comfort, especially if she is physically weak or might face bad news.

2. Send her gift cards for places that deliver food.
Having gift cards on hand puts her in charge and lets her order what she wants when she wants it. Find out if she’s on a restricted diet so you can pick a place that fits her needs.

3. Leave a laundry bag for her to fill, then pick it up and bring it back filled with fresh laundry.
If you’re both comfortable with the idea,put it away for her, too—and change the sheets while you’re at it. (Nothing like slipping between cool, crisp freshly laundered sheets!)

4. Fill her car with gas and have it washed.
It’s one less thing for her to have to do and even an outing to the doctor or physical therapy is better in a shiny clean car.

5. Schedule a regular “pick-up or drop-off” run for prescriptions, groceries, errands.
Waiting for medicine or pushing a cart down the frozen food aisle when you feel crummy isn’t fun. You can help make sure she has what she needs to get better.

6. Decorate her place for special occasions or holidays (and put the decorations away afterward).
It may help her feel she’s not missing out on “normal” life and gives her a fresh perspective—especially if she spends most of her time in the same spot.

7. Help with her pets. Walk the dog, care for the cats, get pet food.
Knowing that her furry family is taken care of will be a relief.

8. Arrange for a housecleaner for a day.
Let her choose the day that works for her.

9. Send a note—on real paper—sharing what her friendship means to you.
An actual card or letter can be stuck on a fridge or bedside table as a cheery reminder. There’s something special about touching the words on a page.

Do you have any personal experience—as the giver or recipient of help when you’ve been sick? What helped you? What didn’t go so well? Tell us in the comments.