Caregiving can be overwhelming–know when to ask for help

Over time, the demands of caregiving can start to feel overwhelming and become more than you can handle by yourself – especially as more and more of your time and energy is used up navigating the healthcare system, finding resources or figuring out how to meet someone else’s personal and medical needs. You don’t have to do everything alone. Asking for – and accepting – help is key to avoiding caregiver burn out.

Asking for help is beneficial for the well-being of both you and the person you are caring for. When you share the care you will:

* be less likely to get angry and resentful

* have time to take care of yourself, so you don’t become a patient as well

* once again have time to be their wife, husband, daughter or son and not just their caregiver, and

* the care recipient will get an opportunity to interact with more people.

Asking for help can be difficult when you don’t know what you need; you don’t want to be a bother to others; or you feel guilty that you can’t do it all yourself. Beliefs such as “no one can do this as well as I can” may also be an obstacle to asking for help. It’s true. No one will do it exactly the same as you, but that does not mean they cannot be helpful in their own way.

Recognize that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It means you are acknowledging the challenges of the situation and are being proactive in resolving problems and preventing stress. And people may not realize you need help if you don’t ask for it.

The first step is to identify what help you need. Which tasks would be the easiest to ask others to do? Which do you really want to do yourself? And which, if any, can you afford to pay others to do? Create a list of tasks with which you want help.

Discuss your needs with family members and friends who may be willing to help. Keep in mind some people may be more comfortable with doing personal care while others may be better able clean the house or run errands.

Contact your local health authority to see what services are available to assist you, such as home support and respite. There are also many businesses, community and volunteer agencies that offer services to assist in reducing your load.

SOURCE: Family Caregivers of British Columbia 

Adult Family Care (AFC) is a non-profit program through Somerville-Cambridge Elder Service that provides caregiver support and training for eligible participants across the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Merrimack Valley areas.  For more information, visit or call 617-628-2601.

Family Caregivers of British Columbia helps people caring for a family member or friend who couldn’t manage without their help. Find free education, resources, emotional support, and more at