Communicating with Others About Your Health

Man and woman talking over coffee at kitchen counter.Only you can decide whether to tell others about your condition. You may feel that your health is a private matter. Maybe you have a hard time deciding who to tell and how much to say. Or, you might find that talking makes you feel better. The choice is yours.

Who to tell

Along with family and close friends, you may want a few people at work to know about your condition. Talking with someone in human resources might be a good place to start. If you need to adjust your workload or schedule, he or she may be able to help. For instance, you might be able to work at home or share your job. They may also know of government programs that might offer you some assistance, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or services for older family members or children.

What to say

If you choose to discuss your condition, it’s best to be open and honest. But try not to give too many details. Even though people may be concerned, you may not want to dwell on your health too much. Some people will have questions, so try to decide ahead of time how much you want to share.

How people may react

Not all people respond in the same way. Some will be concerned and caring. Others might seem flustered or upset. A few may avoid you or say something that seems hurtful. Often, people mean well but can’t find the right words. Assure them that showing they care is helpful. And let them know that there may be no perfect thing to say.

Common concerns

As you begin to face any changes your condition brings, there will likely be things you need to discuss with the people in your life. Topics you may need to talk about could include your energy level and mood changes, sex and intimacy issues, stress, finances, and future care. Be open and know they care.