Explaining your needs to others

Explaining your needs to others

Are you worried that asking for help sounds like whining? You may believe you “should” be able to do it all without assistance. Or think you are “just” doing what any good or loving daughter (or son, or spouse) would do. Like many caregivers focused on family harmony, you may have become used to minimizing the personal impact of caregiving.

Wanting help does not mean you are weak. And being frustrated, tired, or resentful does not mean you don’t care for the elder in your life. It simply means that there is more on your plate than can be done alone.

Before you ask other family members for help, define for yourself very specifically how caregiving has affected your life in these key areas:

  • Are you getting enough sleep? Eating right? Exercising? Keeping up with doctor and dental exams?
  • Are you frustrated with making all the decisions alone? Lonely or bored by a restricted lifestyle? Sad or guilty because nothing you do can make your relative better?
  • Are you losing income because you can’t work the hours you used to? Paying for your relative’s expenses? Unable to afford to hire someone to give you a break?
  • Are you missing out on fun activities? Is everything you do focused on being productive?

Once you name the impact, it can be easier to ask for help more directly. Consider:

  • “I’m overdue at the dentist. I need you to take care of Mom while I go. Which day next week works best for you?”
  • “It’s time for another decision about Dad’s care. I’d rather this were a joint decision. Can we schedule some phone time for tomorrow?”
  • “I haven’t seen my grandchildren in months. I’d like to go visit over the Labor Day holiday. Let’s set up a time next week to get plans in motion so Mom will be covered while I’m gone.”