But I don't need any help...

February 18, 2020 | Caregiver Resources

Why is it so hard to accept help? It's likely that most of us are familiar with the feeling of being overwhelmed, distraught, or exhausted but still confident that nothing and no one can help us. Perhaps it's our rugged American individualism, or a component of human nature that makes us want to do it all ourselves. Whatever the cause, this unwillingness or inability to ask for or receive help shows up in people living with or caring for someone with dementia, too.  What are the signs that someone is acting as a dementia caregiver and needs help but is unaware, afraid, or not sure how to ask for it? Here are some things to look for:

  • Exhaustion - Caring for someone with dementia is taxing both physically and emotionally. It is a never ending job. This shows up as physical fatigue and as emotional exhaustion from the demands of both caregiving and everyday life.
  • Isolation - While caregiving demands increase, a person's capacity to engage with people in other ways may decrease. They have less time (or no time!) to dedicate to other interests or may feel too drained to do so. 
  • Overwhelming emotions - Being a caregiver is often a role that is taken on gradually and unexpectedly. Doing the tasks necessary is one thing but it is a big emotional change to be caring for someone whose previous role may have been supportive spouse, nurturing parent, or helpful friend. To take care of that person means to accept that this role has changed, and that is hard to do. A caregiver may show signs of emotional distress due to this change in roles and possible fear of what the future may hold. 
  • Complications in finances, work, or everyday life - When caring for someone takes precedence, other important tasks may fall by the wayside. If others notice that things are slipping through the cracks, it may be a sign that the person is overwhelmed or simply has too much on their plate.