Sunday 22 February 2015

Sayings Caregivers Hate, Such As "Let me Know If There's Anything I Can Do"

If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done

Fact: Caregivers need help.

Fact: Many caregivers have trouble asking for help.

Fact:  When friends and family say, "Let me know if there's anything I can do", caregivers stifle the urge to scream.

There are so many things wrong with this 'offer of help'.  First, it's a lazy response to a real need - it's an easy 'out'.  A person who truly wants to be helpful should try to imagine your situation and offer some possible actions that will lighten your load; actions that a friend will actually carry out within days.  Secondly this 'offer of help' puts the onus of asking on the caregiver which feels like a veiled way of discouraging a caregiver from actually putting in a request.

As a caregiver community, we need to have a ready response to this ubiquitous saying.

An Experiment: Think of three things that someone could do that would be really helpful.  These might include walking the dog, delivering a prepared meal or staying with your loved one for a couple of hours once a week.

The next time anyone says, "Let me know if there's anything I can do", have your answer ready.  Say, "thank you for asking, yes!  Would you....?" and just pick one task from your list of three.  At first, tasks should be one-time, simple jobs that are easy to complete.  Once people get in the habit of helping and they know your daily reality a little better, they might expand the range of their helpful actions.  Remember to put a time frame on your request - pin down a commitment.  Offering heartfelt gratitude when someone does follow through is a good way to keep them coming back.  Everyone likes to know that their helpful act has made a positive difference.

Try this and let me know how it goes!

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