“Let me know if you need some help.”
If you are a caregiver, you’ve likely heard that before.
Some caregivers say no to the help because they don’t want to burden anyone else.
Other caregivers express frustration that the offer seems empty or insincere. People offer to help, but they never follow through.
In either case, you aren’t getting the help you need. But learning HOW to ask for help while care-giving can ease the load on you and be part of your self-care.
Tips for Asking for Care-Giving Help
#1 Be Specific
What is the specific help you need?
Why do you need it?
And who do you know that you think would be best suited to give you that help?
For example, you may need to leave the house to run much needed errands, but no one has offered to stay with your loved one.
It feels like a burden to ask for help. Or, maybe you feel like you shouldn’t have to ask. Either way, you aren’t getting the help you want.
So, make a list of the errands you need to run and how long you will be gone. Then, think of someone who could stay with your loved one and why they are a good choice.
When you ask that person for help, be specific. For instance, you might say, “I need to go to the pharmacy this week to pick up Dave’s medication. It’s much easier for me if I can run out to take care of this without bringing Dave. Sometimes I have to wait and Dave can get agitated. Could you come stay with him on Monday or Wednesday this week for about an hour in the morning? You are good at getting Dave to talk and I think he would enjoy spending some time with you. He is usually more alert and engages better in the morning.”
In this example, you state the specific help you need and why it’s important to have the help. Also, you point out why this particular person can help. Highlighting someone’s strengths or attributes helps them to see how why you asked them to help.
#2 Training May Be Needed
People may sincerely want to help, but may not know how to care for someone with significant needs. Or, they may be nervous about it. After all, you likely needed training yourself when you first became a caregiver.
Is there something you can train someone to do that would help them to feel more at ease with helping? For example, if you ask a friend to come stay with your husband while you run to the pharmacy, what do they need to know how to do? Does your spouse need specific help to go to the bathroom? Are there certain strategies to calm your loved one if he gets agitated?
The more someone knows about what to do and what to expect, the better they may feel about helping.
#3 Accepting Help – Any Help
Can someone help in a way that doesn’t involve direct care for you loved one? What about yard, house, or car maintenance? Ask a neighbor for help mowing your yard for instance. Or, order groceries online and ask someone to pick them up for you. There may be many examples of things people can do for you that don’t involve direct care for your spouse. But, with each task accomplished, your load is less.
#4 Many Hands Make Light Work
You may have trouble asking one person for help, much less many people. But the more hands involved, the less the burden on any one person. If you need someone to mow your grass 3-4 times a month, are there two people you can ask to help instead of one? Need help making meals? Ask a church group for help. It’s much easier for someone to contribute one meal a month than to cook every week. Sharing the help decreases the load on everyone.
Finally, asking several people for help in different areas can also have a big impact on your care-giving load. The more hands to help with your care-giving load, the lighter the work for you too.
You can do this care-giving thing on your own. You’ve already proven that. But the journey will be that much harder if you continue alone.
If you don’t want to burden anyone, get over it! Most people sincerely want to help but don’t know how.
Some people may need instructions or training to feel confident they can help.
Still others may need to be held accountable for the help that they should give but don’t.
In each scenario, learning how to ask for help while care-giving is important. Be specific about the help you need and explain why the help is important. Be specific about details. And when possible, highlight someone’s strengths so they see how they specifically can help. Finally, when they have helped, be sure to thank them. Remind them of how much even small gestures can ease your load.
So, take 10-15 minutes today to write down the help that you need. Then, think of who you know that is well-suited to a particular task. Contact that person and ask for the help you need. You deserve it.
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Disclaimer: This blog is a resource through which you may obtain information regarding your health and wellness. Information is intended for the general reader and is not a substitute for medical advice. The content in this blog is intended to be informational only and not interpreted as specific advice for you. There may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog. You should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your health and past medical history before making any changes you may read about in this blog.