When you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, learning to ask for help can be a monumental challenge to one’s sense of self—in particular, one’s sense of independence. After all, we expect to be able to do things on our own, whether it is something as simple as getting dressed to driving ourselves to work, overcoming an illness, or handling our financial affairs. But as this unfair disease progresses, we find ourselves relying on loved ones more and more as part of Alzheimer’s care.
In my book, You’re not Alone: Living with Alzheimer’s Disease, we acknowledge how powerless it can feel to have to ask for help. But those who ultimately do say it is a blessing amidst the many challenges they are unprepared to face alone.
How to ask for help
Does the idea of asking for help make you uncomfortable? Do you cringe when loved ones say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you?” That is not an uncommon feeling under the circumstances. Getting beyond the discomfort is important, though, if you are going to accept help and help others to help you. The first step is to ask for help once. Then ask again. You may find the second time easier and the third time easier than the second. And so on, and so on.
Once you start getting more comfortable asking for help, create a list of things you could use help with, and let the askee know what specifically you can use help with and when you need it. This way, you are getting the help you need while still maintaining independence on the things you can still handle on your own.
When it comes to surrounding ourselves with people who know how to listen and respond with care and concern, many of us can find strength in numbers. A few obvious people and places to seek this from include:
- Religious organizations
- Social groups
From there, consider looking outside your familiar support systems for professional help.
Primary care physician — He or she has experience in evaluating and counseling patients with Alzheimer’s disease and its psychological impacts. If you have any medical reasons for how you feel, like lack of sleep or medication side effects, they can help with that. They may also recommend medications to relieve your symptoms.
Non-medication approaches — This might include participating in a support group or individual, couple, or family counseling. Support groups are often organized and facilitated by professional counselors affiliated with local hospitals or long-term care providers. They can be helpful to the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their family and caregivers.
Psychologist and social worker — This can be of significant help when dealing with feelings of depression. Your primary care physician will likely know the counselors in the area who specialize in the kind of counseling you might benefit from. Private insurance and government health care benefits pay for what is prescribed by a physician.
Remember to follow your own advice. I would bet that at times in your life, you have given this advice to someone: “Don’t hesitate to ask for help.” Being newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, now is the time to take your own advice. Help can come in so many forms, each one as reassuring, supportive, and inspirational as the others: a listening ear, a reassuring hug, offering your favorite food, or a helpful drive to the store.
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Help will come when you need it if you learn to ask at the time. It is always nice if the help comes without asking, and often times it will. But when it doesn’t, I encourage you to remember this quote “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”
Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC if we can help answer any questions you have about the information in this blog post. Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call whenever any estate planning or elder law advice or action is needed.
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Thanks for reading!