Chapter 4: Talking to others

When friends want to visit

Friends came by, but often stayed too long. It was tricky trying to be a gatekeeper, not overstepping or assuming what she wanted.

Visits from friends can be uplifting, for both the person who is ill and their family. However, as the ill person becomes weaker, or as caregiving becomes more demanding, families may not have enough energy to meet with visitors. When friends want to visit, it is important that you communicate (for yourself and also for the person who is ill) what is and isn’t okay.

Before the visit

You may want to ask the friend to call ahead and plan a time that does not interfere with regular schedules or caregiving duties when you need privacy. Below are two more simple suggestions you can relay to your friends to help ensure the visit is a positive experience for everyone, especially the person who is ill. Roll your mouse over each of the boxes to see some ideas.

If the person who is ill is in an advanced stage of illness…



…limit the visit to 20 minutes unless person who is ill wants them to stay.


If there are physical changes in the patient or if they are very tired…



… prepare your visitor for this.


The role of gatekeeper

Sometimes, people who are seriously ill do not want any visitors other than certain family or friends. It is important to respect their wishes and comfort level. If you are receiving a visitor, you may also want to inquire ahead of time if they plan to bring a child or someone else. If you or the person who is ill is uncomfortable, suggest another time that might be better, or let them know that you prefer one visitor at a time.

It may become part of your caregiver role to be a gatekeeper for the person who is ill, and you may have to block visitors. You may get some pushback from people, but it is necessary to stand your ground. You could encourage other ways for friends to show they care such as sending a card or email, or making a phone call or virtual call.