A caregiver’s life: Accepting — and seeking — help

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 26, 2016

Barbara Garwood

Special to the Post

A caregiver, by definition, is overwhelmed. You may be dressed, smiling and giving the pat answer (“I’m fine, just fine”) as you turn down all offers to “let me know if you need anything.”   Sometimes you draw a blank when the well-meaning offer is made, leaving it hanging in the air to evaporate, never put to use. You may feel the offer is off-hand and not meant to be accepted. Or maybe you believe that you are Superman (or Superwoman) and can do it all, as in everything, for everyone. Except, of course, for yourself.

The reality is that people who care about you truly want to help. They just don’t know what to do. They may not know that you only got two hours of sleep last night because you were caregiving for the other six hours or that you need a few things from the grocery store, but the thought of heading out with your loved one in tow is too daunting. You have the making of a perfect match — you need help, someone is willing to help you. Do not miss this opportunity!

Here is a very simple way to have an answer ready when that offer of help comes in. It takes just a few minutes of your time but will give you much-needed relief. Create a list titled “Help I Need” and write down all of the tasks that you can delegate. The list can run the gamut of running errands, providing a meal, relieving you for an hour or so, raking leaves, mowing the grass, providing tech support (who couldn’t use a 13-year-old when you can’t figure out how to use your new remote?).

You don’t even need to wait for someone to offer. Tap into the support systems and relationships you already have in place. If you are active in a church community, have a conversation with your pastor about sharing the list with the congregation. If you are part of a veterans group or have kept in touch with former co-workers, share the list with them as well. Do not forget neighbors and extended family. These folks want to help you!

According to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time. When you are kind to others, you feel good as a person – more moral, optimistic, and positive.”

The benefits of creating and sharing your “Help I need” list extend beyond the actual tasks that are performed. Relationships develop, young and old interact, and lives are enriched. Gratitude and usefulness are wonderful. Be ready with your list, knowing that you are giving someone the gift of feeling useful and making a difference in your day.


You can contact Barbara Garwood at BGarwood@trinityathome.net


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