Most caregivers, at some point, experience the need to ask for help. They feel overwhelmed with their caregiving duties. They are worn out from trying to do everything alone. Yet asking for help isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Donna is a caregiver to her son Nicholas. She is also a disability advocate and author who writes extensively on the topic of caregiving, and she understands the difficulty caregivers often face when asking for help.
The fear of asking for help is often due to the pressure that caregivers put on themselves. “Many caregivers believe that they are shirking their obligations and actually betraying the love they feel for a dependent loved one if they ask for help,” writes Donna. “It feels like an admission of failure in the most important job of your life.” And sometimes, when caregivers actually do reach out to family and friends for help, they can be in for a shock when the answer is no.
There are ways to feel confident in asking for help, and be successful in getting the help you need.
Start with requests for small tasks.
Often, by the time a request is made for help, “the caregiver is so exhausted and angry that the request sounds angry,” shares Donna. “And a caregiver who is overwhelmed is not going to be asking for something small, the request is likely to be for someone to come and ‘take over’ for a few days.” That’s a tall order, especially for someone who might not know what to do when it comes to caring for another person.
“Think of what members of your family naturally like to do or talents they might have,” she says. “Remember, every caring task by itself is perfectly doable. But taken together and over time, caregivers become overwhelmed trying to do everything alone.”
Think about how you ask for help.
“Try saying, “I know you love cooking and we always love all the treats you prepare. I don’t have time to cook a healthy meal every night, so I wondered if you would like to make us a meal once a week for a trial period of month or so? You could pick a day of the week that works for you and we can check in after a month to see if that day works for us all. What do you think?””
Many people want to help in a caregiving situation – they just don’t know how. So sometimes it’s up to the primary caregiver to be the one to ask.
As a caregiver, what tasks do you ask for help with? Share with us how you manage your caregiving duties, and you could be featured on AbleThrive!