The “AAA” Dilemma of Caregivers
By: Linda Burhans
Many times we think we're too selfish and often feel ashamed about it. But the
truth is the caregivers get out of the habit of taking care of themselves.
Here's how it works; you find the whole thing almost impossibly hard, yet other
caregivers do it without complaining or giving up so there must be something
We didn't apply for the job caregiver. We've had no training. We're not even
sure if we are good at it. And on top of everything, we've got our own life to
Informal caregiving is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Understanding
how to balance responsibilities by taking care of your needs and involving
others helps manage the natural stress and isolation of being a caregiver.
In the past several years, I have facilitated over 600 support groups and
workshops for family caregivers. I always find a consistent common thread. I
call it the "AAA" Dilemma of Caregivers.
Caregivers do not Ask for help, they do not Accept help, and they do not Acknowledge themselves.
Many times caregivers are asked by a friend, neighbor or coworker, "Is there anything I can do to help you out?" And invariably the caregiver answers, "No, I'm okay."
And most of the time we are not okay. We definitely could use some assistance.
Usually we just do not know how to answer. And when we keep saying no and not
accepting help, people stop asking. For some reason many of us caregivers think
that it is our total responsibility to take care of our love ones.
I suggest to caregivers to take a little time to sit down and write a list of
some things you can accept help with. So the next time your friend or neighbor
asks if they can help you, you can pull out your list and perhaps ask them to
mow your lawn or pick up some groceries?
I guarantee they will be delighted to help you. That's why they have been
One woman emailed me after attending one of my workshops. She said she thought about what I had said and decided to make a list. She only put one thing on her list and that was if someone could come over any afternoon between 2 and 4 PM and let her take a nap that would be just wonderful. Her exact words were
"And I am pleased as punch to tell you that I am now napping seven days a
week and my husband is getting seven different visitors that had stopped
So, I strongly encourage all Caregivers today to ask for help, accept help and
acknowledge yourselves. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There is help!
Linda Burhans is a Caregiver Advocate with Harmony Home Health (www.harmonyhh.com) and is the author of the book “Good Night And God Bless”