Nobody likes to ask for help and seniors are no exception. It is unfortunate that our “I can do it myself” attitude has given people the impression that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Nobody likes to ask for help, but we all have to do it at one time or another. People help each other, it’s what they do. Helping others is one of the cornerstones of our civilization. There is no shame in asking for help, although learning how to give and how to receive graciously makes it more palatable. The next time you need help with something consider some of these tactics:
- Think tact and think reciprocity. If you need to ask for help do it such a way that the other person doesn’t feel imposed upon.
- Long before you need anyone’s help develop a network of friends.
- When asking for help, get their attention by showing that you would be happy to help them in return.
- Speak up; state exactly what you need and then ask what you can do in return.
- Make it as easy as possible for people to help you; example: don’t ask a night shift person to come in and help you during the day. If someone does their own grocery shopping on Tuesdays; perhaps you could go along versus asking someone to make a special trip.
- Don’t forget to say thank you and try to acknowledge the favor with a small gift, a lunch, or perhaps a box of candy.
Find ways to reciprocate; cook a meal, make a pan of cookies, or offer to provide a safe haven for a latch key kid to come to after school. Pick up the mail or sign for a package if a neighbor is away. Most people, including family members, like to be of help but are afraid of being rebuffed. It never hurts to ask, but don’t presume either. As a Discharge Planner I would talk to people who insisted they had plenty of help from neighbors; on further scrutiny I would learn that the neighbors were at their wits end because grandma was just too much for them.
Determine what kind of help you need and know what kind of help you are willing to accept. Are your requests reasonable or should you be looking elsewhere for help? For example: Could you hire a handyman, sign up for a meal delivery program or hire a housekeeping service?
Check out Home Health Care agencies and adult day care programs. National organizations and government agencies also provide information about services availablein your community. Hospital Discharge Planners as well as your local Area Agency on Aging (City of County Office on Aging, Council on Aging or Office of Elder Affairs) will give referrals. Don’t forget your local Senior Centers, the Health Department the Division of Veterans Affairs. Help is avail but you have to ask.