Caregiver Corner: Accepting Help

By Pamela Atwood, MA, Director of Dementia Care Services

One of the things that can be harder than asking for help is accepting it. Caregivers often feel that care responsibilities are theirs alone. Some have fears of what might happen whey they are away. Some think accepting help is a sign of failure on their part. However, research shows that successful caregivers regularly take breaks and accept help (also referred to as “respite”). People also feel good when they do something nice for someone else. Caregivers might be asked what can be “given” for birthdays or the holidays.  To make it easier to accept help, here is some language to use and a list of things to say “yes” to (adapted from

  • Read a book with Mom, watch TV, listen to music or play simple games so that I can have a break.
  • He always did the yard work. If you could rake leaves, pull weeds together, it would help with household chores and make dad feel useful.
  • Go shopping for me, or pick up a few items for me when you’re at the grocery store.
  • Drive to an appointment.
  • Be available for talking – help me laugh and get some perspective about my situation.
  • Call once a week and let’s talk about anything bug caregiving!
  • Help me complete a project.
  • Stay with your father so that I can go to synagogue/church, take a nap, attend a support group, get a haircut or go to the doctor.
  • Go to lunch or a movie with me, take a walk or help me get some exercise.
  • Sort the mail and throw away the junk.
  • Run errands like getting the car washed or a full tank of gas.
  • Give Mom a manicure or haircut.
  • Help me fill out forms, or sort out insurance issues.

When people offer, caregivers should realize that most people are glad to feel that they have helped; they are not looking for you to return the favor. Caregivers often feel indebted to those who help, but honest, sincere appreciation is thanks enough.

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