Hopefully you’re finding some useful tips and advice in our series of blog posts on Caring for your Aging Parents or other aging loved ones.
Today, I’d like to focus on the importance of asking for help, and how to successfully get the help that you need. All too often, caregivers (especially women), are hesitant to communicate effectively and directly to get the support that we need from our family and friends. Sometimes family dynamics are such that the bulk of caregiving responsibility falls on one person who ends up resenting other family members.
Nothing is more important than self-care so that you can be at your best for your loved one. In addition to taking care of your own physical and emotional needs (maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits, keeping up with your own medical appointments, and managing stress), it’s important to ask for the help that you need.
Here are some tips for asking for and getting the right support:
1) Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed and too fatigued to see your way out of the situation. Reach out for support early.
2) Get rid of the guilt of asking for help. No one can do this successfully on their own, and you are not showing weakness or incapability by reaching out for support.
3) Avoid getting “help” that creates more work for yourself. If someone wants to provide support and you’re unable to give them something specific to do, you may end up getting help that is actually a detriment to you.
4) To avoid #3, create and maintain a list of things that you do that could be delegated to someone else who wants to help. Errands, cooking, cleaning, transportation are all great examples. Have the list ready when you get offers for help. Consider not only what people can do for your loved one, but what they can do for you.
5) Be direct and don’t be wishy-washy when making requests. If you soften them with language like “It’s not a big deal, but…” or “It’s just a thought,” it makes it easier for someone to say no.
Take the first step today. What’s something YOU can delegate or get assistance with? What’s your plan for asking for help?
Caring for Aging Parents Series:
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