The myth of self-reliance
As a society, we value independence. The self-sufficient
super-achiever. When it comes to family caregiving, however, this mind-set can
backfire, resulting in stress and burnout for you, not to mention greater risk
for your relative. (Imagine if something happened to you and no one else has
really been part of the team, sharing the tasks!)
Your mind may be the culprit. When you think about
asking others for help, does your mind immediately come up with reasons why
they can’t? Those are thoughts and beliefs trapping you, not reality or facts.
It is time to question your assumptions.
For each obstacle statement your mind produces, challenge your limiting thoughts with alternate possibilities:
- “They are too busy.” This is an assumption. I won’t know until I
- “I should be able to do it all.”
The situation is more than anyone could
foresee or do alone. It’s reasonable to ask for help.
- “I’m emotionally the closest.”
That may be; however, that doesn’t mean
that others don’t have a role to play. It is an opportunity for them to learn
and participate, and also for the person I care for to have greater security
and feel supported by more than just me.
- “They live too far away.”
Even if they can’t help with hands-on
activities, there are other ways they can contribute that will make my load
more work to teach them than to do it myself.” That’s true at first. But then they will
know how and can do it again. This is a vote for the long haul.
- “They won’t do it right.”
I can teach them. And maybe it’s okay if
it’s not perfect (the way I would do it).
- “They don’t want to help. If they did,
they would have already.” This
is an assumption. They won’t know what’s needed or how to help unless I express
Do you have trouble asking for help?
As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates see this often. A dedicated family member who just can’t bring themselves to ask other relatives to pitch in. Sometimes it’s easier to turn first to someone outside the family. No history. No baggage. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. You don’t have to do this alone.