Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.—MATTHEW 7:7 (NIV)
“It’s been so hard lately…” The late afternoon sun cast long shadows over my friend Lilly’s garden where we sat catching up. I felt a familiar hopelessness as she vented about the difficulties of caregiving for her 82-year-old mother. Her father had recently died after months suffering from severe dementia. Now she struggled as the sole provider of physical and emotional care for her mom. I’d offered help before, but Lilly never took me up on it. Then I had an idea.
“Why don’t I take your mom to her next doctor’s appointment?” I asked.
“Really? She’ll talk your ear off.” Lilly laughed as her face brightened.
“Not a problem, it will give you a couple of hours to yourself.”
In caregiving situations, it’s important to be intentional in asking for help when you’re struggling. Don’t bottle up emotions and accept isolation. Others can’t know your challenges, but may genuinely want to help if given a need to fill—ask! For friends and family of the caregiver, that intentionality is equally important: Be specific with what you can/want to give. Blanket statements such as “let me know if you need help” aren’t very useful. A specific offer such as providing a couple of hours’ respite, a ride or a meal is easier to accept, and fills the gaps that can lead to caregiver burnout.