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Knowing When to Ask For & Accept Help as You Age

Knowing when to ask for and accept help as you age is tough. We desire to maintain our independence, yet progressively because of age, injury, or illness, some things become difficult, or even impossible, to accomplish on our own.



Personally, I’m finding myself making accommodations as my strength is not what it used to be. I also try to protect myself against injuries that might not heal as quickly as in the past. Some days my pride hurts as I have to reach out to my children or others for help. On other days, I realize it’s typical and there’s no shame in asking for help when needed.


As you and I think through these transitions that are coming, if not already upon us, let’s remember a few guiding principles to use that will help us and our children.


One


Recognize that if you’ve done a good job teaching your children, they already have built into them a desire to help you when needed. You’ve taken care of them, helped them, and sacrificed for them as they grew. You’ve instilled in them good values. Now, they may want to help, but not know exactly what you need. They may also feel uncomfortable intruding or overstepping in areas where they are uncertain of your needs. Communicate honestly and openly about what you need. Do you need their help or their help to find a good housekeeper or handyman? Can they help interact with contractors or other service providers?


My three sons have all run interference for me with various service providers when I simply didn’t know the lingo or the specialty. It’s been a huge blessing to me and helped me with a lot of work on projects around our home or business building.


Two


Take a hard look at your living circumstances and decide if changes are necessary now or in the near future. What kind of assistance might you need if you stay in your current home? Can your children help? Will you need other service providers to maintain your home? What can you afford?


My husband and I have had quite a lot of transitions over the last few years. As we finally made a decision to buy a home we think we will be in for a number of years, we talked through a variety of issues. Garages and easy entrance into the home or a detached garage with a yard and stairs to traverse? Antique house with narrow halls, basement laundry rooms, and small spaces or a newer home with main floor living and wide hallways that could accommodate a wheelchair, if necessary? Since we live in a northern climate with snowy winters, would we need help clearing driveways and sidewalks?


The bottom line on living arrangements - we all need to either be willing and able to pay to live in a maintenance-free environment, ask children for help with certain projects, or hire help.


Three


As we receive help from family and friends, we can choose to be gracious and loving in response and accept it with gratitude. It sounds obvious but it’s not always how relationship dynamics work out. Resentment may be one of the strangest human emotions I’ve encountered. I’ve seen people resent being helped and people resent helping. Neither scenario makes for great relationships. Pride and selfishness tend to be at the center of resentment.


We can do our part by setting our pride aside and being gracious receivers of assistance. What does that look like? Saying thank you without the need to overdo or underdo it. Offering kindness in return when you can. You might make some cookies or buy a nice card. You may offer monetary compensation if appropriate and you can afford it. Being patient and waiting on other people’s schedules as necessary. Praying for the person(s) helping you. It truly is a great thing to honor our elders and in the faith world, it’s a value that God desires us to have and teach our young.


Where are you on the scale of needing assistance in your grandparenting years? If you need some help, I encourage you to seek it. Leading a long life is a great gift. Part of aging gracefully is recognizing the weaknesses that do come with aging bodies, but relishing the strength or emotion, character, and maturity that can also come with it. We still have much to offer our families, businesses, and communities. It may simply require a little more thoughtfulness about things we need a little help with now and then.

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