Advice for seniors: how to ask for help and emotional support

November 16, 2015

From an early age, we are taught that in order to be successful, well-adjusted members of society, we need to learn how to be self-sufficient and independent.  Which is why, for the vast majority of us, it can be so difficult to figure out how to ask for help when we really need it.

asking for help

This is especially true as we continue to age. But contrary to popular belief, asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  In fact, learning how to ask for help can actually keep you healthier, happier, and more connected to those around you. You may even be surprised to learn that many people, especially caregivers, are pleased to provide help for the elderly.

So, what are the best ways to ask for help when you need it? Here are some ways to identify situations in which you would benefit from someone else’s help:

You feel overwhelmed.  The chaotic periods of life ebb and flow, and when you feel a “chaos climax” coming on, recognize it as a great time to ask for help.  Often times, chaos comes into your life when you overextend yourself, so the best way to ask for help is to learn how to say no.

It’s not always easy to say no, especially when friends or loved ones are involved, but it will allow you to keep stress to a minimum and bring more peace into your life.

If you feel overwhelmed or overextended, here are some ways to cope: always take regular breaks and say “yes” when help is offered. Instead of being resistant to care and support, identify what is causing you to feel overextended. This may help you recognize how saying “yes” will benefit you.

You feel depressed or anxious.  Loneliness, isolation, or grief can sometimes transform into deeper issues, like depression or anxiety.  According to the National Institute on Aging, these emotions can be brought on by major life changes and are often temporary.  If feelings of depression and anxiety last for a long time, however, they recommend seeking help from supportive friends or family, or a doctor or counselor.


If you feel depressed or anxious, share your story. Did you lose a loved one? Are you recovering from an injury? It may surprise you that people were unaware of your grief or suffering. By sharing your story, people will understand that you need their support.

You are noticing problems with your health.  Have you been feeling pains in your chest?  Do you feel lightheaded or dizzy often?  Are you noticing that you have been more forgetful than usual?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it is time to ask for help.  If you don’t want to burden friends or family members, it’s important to consult your physician—and be honest about the symptoms that you are experiencing.  Being proactive about your health can ensure that a situation won’t become life threatening.

While asking for help might force you to step out of your comfort zone, the more you do it, the easier your life will become.  There are so many people in your life and community who are ready, willing, and able to lend a helping hand.


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