How to Get the Help You Need; What NOT to Say

Can't seem to get everything done? What caregiver does? To enlist the help of others, it helps to ask in the "right" way.

  • Don't say: "I'm so frazzled!" (and then sit back and hope for a rescue squad.)

Your circle of friends and family -- concerned about how you're hanging in there -- is likely eager to be of service. But they're not mind readers.

  • Don't say: "Can you help me with Mom?"

It's heartfelt, but too vague to get the best response.

Better: Make detailed, immediate requests, which help your helpers give a better answer. Examples: "Can you drop off my coat at the drycleaners and pick it up?" "Would you mind buying a birthday card for my niece?" "Would you sit with Jack in the hospital while I get my hair cut?"

  • Don't say: "Oh, whatever you can do is great."

However well intentioned they may be, your friends aren't in your shoes. They may not understand exactly what kind of gestures would make your life easier. That's why you need to ask in a concrete way. Getting what you really need beats five meatloaf casseroles, two banana breads, and a bunch of friends twiddling their thumbs.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio