Asking for the Help You Need

Caregiving is a tough job, and it’s can often be too much for one person to handle alone. If you’re caring for a loved one, understand the stress you’re facing — and know how to ask for help. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.

At first, you may be able to meet your loved one’s needs yourself. This may last months or even years, depending on how quickly the disease progresses and your own mental and physical health. Eventually, however, your loved one will need more help with everyday tasks such as eating, bathing and toileting. And just as the physical demands of caregiving increase, so can the emotional toll. Challenging dementia-related behaviors can strain the coping skills of even the most patient and understanding caregiver.

In addition, the sustained stress of caregiving can affect your own health. The physical and emotional demands of caregiving may weaken your immune system, leaving you more likely to get sick and stay sick longer. You may sleep poorly and have trouble setting aside time for yourself. Caregiving may also increase your risk of depression. Before you know it, you may drift away from your family and friends — at a time when you need them the most.

Asking family and friends for help can be an awkward and difficult thing to do. In fact, many caregivers avoid asking for help and end up trying to do everything themselves. You may find that once you take the step and ask someone for help, it is much easier than you expected. Many times, family members and friends are willing, but just don’t know how to help.

 Here are some tips for asking family members or friends for help:

• Sit down with them in person or find a quiet time to speak on the phone
• Review the list of patient needs
• Specifically discuss areas in which you think they could help
• Ask them if they would like to participate
• Inquire about whether they would like to help out in a particular area
• Clearly explain the tasks and what they could do to help
• Make sure that they understand exactly what would be helpful for you, as well as the patient

If you can’t get enough help from your friends and relatives, take advantage of community resources like those offered at Leeza’s Care Connection. You might enroll your loved one in an adult day program, both for the social interaction the program will provide your loved one and the caregiving respite it’ll provide you. You might also consider working with an agency that provides household help or assistance with daily tasks. Counseling services and support groups also can help you cope with your caregiving duties.

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