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I'm an only child caring for an elderly mother with moderate dementia. It's a very tough road to go alone and I have many times had friends ask what they can do to help. I have never felt comfortable accepting their offers of help; it always just seemed like too much to ask of non-family. Recently, a good friend pressed me several times on the issue and mentioned her work schedule was changing and that she would be free in the afternoons and what could she do to help, etc. I have been struggling with the need to have someone meet my mom when she gets transported home from day care 2 days a week, just to get her in the house and settled, and thought I had found my solution. The time commitment would literally be 20 minutes twice a week. When I proposed it to my friend, and even said I would compensate her for her time and adjust my mom's schedule to fit hers, she hesitated and said she would "think about it." Knowing her, I can tell the issue won't come up again. It took a lot for me to ask for this help (which she knows) and I'm frustrated and hurt that this was her reaction. I would rather that she had never made an offer at all as it now seems so hollow. Has anyone else had this type of experience with non-family members offering help and then backing outt? I realize that there is no obligation here, but what she did seems very callous and I'm having a hard time moving beyond it. Am I overreacting?

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The closest Area Agency on Aging office is usually a wealth of information about resources. Also, you could ask one of those people who offers to help if THEY would be willing to call around and search for resources. Calling takes time, energy, and effort, but is relatively "low-risk." Just a thought....blessings to all -
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I think people mean well when they say "call if you need anything", but it seems to have become just such a common expression these days, that it's done without thinking. Thinking that it really might become something they have to DO !! I totally agree with "graceterry" about being specific. Be very specific !! Ask a person who has offered if they could do one particular thing on a day that would be convenient for that person. And then all involved will be blessed !!!
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I think a huge part of the problem is based on 2 things...1. If we do not communicate strongly enough we desperately need a break others take it for granted we are fine 2. I think most people are afraid to be left to take care of an elderly or sick individual because they do not know what to expect and are afraid something might go wrong they dont know how to handle...and maybe they are afraid you will leave and not come back (just a little humour, though I am sure that fantasy has crossed your mind at least once)....you need to firmly state I need help, and call around to local agency....I am sure if you can get funding there are senior students at the local nursing program looking for extra credits doing something like this....there is probably a drop in program as well where your mother or person you are caring for can be dropped off at for a couple of hours to give you a break, or call your local agency to find out where you can obtain funding and respite care.
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I am re-posting this suggestion because I have known it to work well at least some of the time: "...I encourage family caregivers to make a list of small, medium, and large tasks that you would trust someone else to do for you. Make the list VERY SPECIFIC and include tasks that involve direct care of your mom AND other tasks on your list of "things to do" that may not involve direct care of your mom but would relieve you of that specific thing at least once. Don't hesitate to put even the most mundane tasks on the list (grocery shopping, cooking, light housecleaning, errands, etc). Make copies of the list. When someone offers to help, hand them the list and say, "Thank you for your kindness and concern. If you would be willing to do ANY of these things even once, it would be a great help." THEN you will know who is really willing to help and who is just being polite. If you will allow them to help you, they will feel good about it and someday you can pass that kindness forward to others...." Blessings to all -
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I want to thank everyone who responded to my question- I understand now (as many people pointed out), that I overwhelmed my friend with a request that was too much of a regular commitment. I guess I was just so convinced that fate had intervened and given me a perfect solution to one of many issues I face alone. I am going to let my friend off the hook on this one and just not bring it up again. I'm going to speak with my case worker at our local elder services agency to see if she has any suggestions on how I can find someone to handle the situation. Thanks to all of you for your kind words and great advice. This site is so helpful, I don't post often but I laugh and cry at so many of the forum posts-this a wonderful community of very special people. Thanks again!!
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i know just how you feel, I have been taking care of my mother now for almost 5 years she is in the 7th stage of alzhiemers, my bothers wife has offered me a 1 night and 1 day a month time off this is all they have offered, my bother told me that his wife and kids come first, man this is his mother! What is wrong with people today. It makes me mad that all they want to do with their parents when they get old and need their childern the childern are to busy and dont care just stick them in a nursing home and see them maybe once or twice a year. Wake up people they took care of you raised you and was always there for you and you can return the love and compashion when they are in their time of need. I was my hands of them! I can single care for my mother and will not ask anyone for help. It's sad what the world is coming to!!! Shame
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As the old saying goes, "a friend in need, is a friend indeed." Most people want to offer but not follow through. It makes them feel good for the moment and especially if someone else is listening. I have found this to be the norm. As I have read, life calls upon you only in rare circumstances to show real character, and most of us fail. I hate to sound so negative but my husband and I have had this discussion many times. The selfless are, well, very rare. And no, you are not wrong to be hurt, but I wouldn't end the friendship. Just know that when you see someone who exhibits true character, it is a rare and beautiful thing. Your friend does not want to commit to a schedule, many people are this way. Their lives are over scheduled as it is. I hope you find that special person who comes through for you.
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I've read all of the comments and ALL of them are true. The bottom line is the person who offers the help is not there. I've been my mother's sole caregiver for eight years now. I have a niece who is a nurses aide and just received her LPN. Her daughter is licensed home care attendant. Both live 15 minutes away. They'll both visit my mother about once every two months and spend an hour. I'm the one who cooks and invites them for holiday dinners and summer barbeques to keep the family together. I used to hint at needing a break then, on the advice of friends, stated outright that for eight years I've not visited my daughter and granddaughter who live out of state. Neither woman has sacrificed their vacation, holiday or weekends to care for my mother. Years ago, MY MOTHER BOUGHT THEIR HOUSE FOR THEM! I know it's not because they don't love me or my mother. I've concluded they think L-O-V-E is a noun, not a verb. After eight years I'm left with, "NOW WHAT?" And that's where you're going to land, too. FORGET THEM! This site will help you, not them. The sooner you stop asking why, the sooner you'll look into viable resources. That's what I'm about to do and it took EIGHT YEARS! I'm only writing in the hope that my experience will spare you wasted time and hurt feelings. It's about YOU, not them. Let's share what works and empower ourselves! I've shed tears and we're all entitled. But in the end we are who we've been looking for. Let's get to work!
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People seem to like to be noble and offer to help, but when you need their help and ask, they suddenly have other plans...
I tend to laugh when someone says "oh any time you need a hand..." yes, I'll ring you at 3am when d'mother is stomping around the house shouting at her hallucinatory 'visitors'.

Oh that's right, they didn't give me their number, so I can't phone them anyways!
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I am one of 5 children and have one Sibling who " helps " when she can. I've had many friends who say if there's anything you need please ask. I think it's just what some people say. I too never like to ask for help outside of the family. My friends know I have 4 siblings who don't help with the exception of the one who " helps " when she can. I would hope my friends would help if I asked.
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I think people, family and non family, feel guilty, so they "offer" help. It makes them "feel good" about themselves and the situation. I just really don't think they either think it through all the way... or they really don't think we will ever follow through on it!! When we do, it... ahhhh.... catches them off guard! Be glad she didn't say YES and then NOT show up! That would be far worse! I can relate. I would pretend it didn't happen and move on. Wish I had better answers.
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Kate, being an only child has nothing to do with it . I have siblings and when I ask they say "oh sure, when?" and when I ask them, I get all the excuses in the book. After a few years I finally smartened up and stopped asking. Why do they offer, because they are calling your bluff, they really dont expect you to want them and in the mean time, they look like they care. No one, and I mean no one wants to make a commitment. You have to take matters into your own hands and hire someone. Good luck and welcome to our lives, lol.
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Katergran, I would like to suggest that your friend was sincere in trying to help you, but was overwhelmed when she learned you were needed twice EVERY week. She could probably kick herself for suggesting that she had that much free time and might have been frightened to take on the task. Could you find something else for her to do ie pick up cleaning, get stamps at the Post Office , get a prescription filled , or walk the dog. I think the denial by your friend was because she realized it was an ongoing committment. Please forgive her for hesitating. It was just too much for her.
Corinne
Give a hug
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Yes, that sure sounds like your friend is asking what she can do to help, Jeanne. That definitely is Not a social phrase. So, does this mean when you try to cash in that question, she is giving you the runaround? Then, I agree with you totally - she's being a jerk.
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Arniethek1, "let me know if I can help," is a social phrase, like "how are you." Point well taken. But in this case the friend "pressed me several times on the issue and mentioned her work schedule was changing and that she would be free in the afternoons and what could she do to help." That is not a social convention. That is at least a good imitation of an offer to help.
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I understand your frustration and I've heard other similar problems such as yours on this site. Again, if I may suggest, particularly since you mentioned you had no issues with compensation, the website care.com and then click on senior care individual - you have the option to put your zip code in and a radius in miles. When you do that, the choices you have of individuals more than happy to help you out will pop up, and in many cases, their photo and bio. There is also a care giver professional on this site who you may phone for guidance. It is better to work with someone with experience in caring for seniors, stroke victims, dementia patients, etc., and people willing to drive your mother to various appts. and bring her back home. By employing someone especially equipped to handle the elderly you do not become depending or beholding to friends or family members who are not going to be as reliable on a regular basis. So many out there now need part time jobs and can work out a schedule to include a few hours in one household and few in another! Good luck and let us know how you are doing.
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That question is a "social" phrase. It's the same when they ask you, "How are you?" A social phrase. Just as we are conditioned to respond, "I'm fine." even though we're not. It just drives me crazy when I go to the clinic and the doctor enters and ask, "How are you doing?" And I automatically respond, "I'm fine." If I'm fine, I wouldn't be at the clinic!

So, the phrase of offering to help, is just a social phrase that makes the person feel better that they offered the help (even though they have no plans to actually Do It.)
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Have you called your local Area Agency on Aging? They will send a social worker out to your home and have a lot of helps for the elderly. My MIL lives with us and we were able to set her up with senior daycare where they pick her up on the bus 3 days a week. The social worker also told us there was meals on wheels and if you need someone to care for your loved one, they will pay someone you know as long as they aren't a relative. I imagine they are all a little different by state, but it doesn't hurt to ask what is available. I know it is hurtful that people ask to help and then back out...I have a sister who flies in from another state to help us out when my husband and I want to travel together. Some people have a caregiving nature...most don't.
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"Why do people offer to help and then back down when asked?"

Because they are jerks?
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Somehow many in previous generations managed to handle the care of their loved ones without these kind of problems?My mother and her sister did it for their mom for years in their own homes as their mothers did it for their folks.Actually they started caring for her 25 years prior when my grandfather died.Those days are gone forever in this country (USA).Many cultures around the world do it to this day (but it is changing for the worse rapidly).I was the first generation from what I can research that had to go it alone.I could smell it coming for years when I saw what was going on in my sibling families (totally disfunctional) and decided to do without many things that would of been nice because I knew the day would come to care for mom and dad.They were fantastic parents who happened to get old and senile during a era where most people (especially their own children) only care about their own selfserving lives.I have to believe they saved some money too because they probably saw it coming.I heard from their lips (my siblings) many times the old "don't worry mom & dad we will be there for you,by the way could you loan us a little money now for the grandkids......." BS story.It is a rare day when anyone will offer a helping hand for free.I paid for out of pocket or did it myself everything and I mean everything in regards to "caregiver help" for 7 years.Yes,thankfully the government is still helping out with medicare,social services,medicaid.Social Services is the place to start for help.If you are dealing with dementia meet with the local Alzheimers Association.Even Social Security helped me out.You need to learn the basics and find sources outside of so called friends and "family" .Many times the help you will find is from strangers who work in the elder care field.I hate to sound negative but the smartest thing I ever did was to deep six the family and their phantom goodwill for good and get the best help possible from professionals who deal with these problems every day.Always choose home care for as long as possible if you are able to do it.Nursing homes are getting worse by the day due to government budget cuts.That is the reality of today's world.Don't hesitate to contact elected officials and choose wisely when you vote because it is only going to get worse when out time comes.There is power in numbers and the more people who scream about the injustice of the SYSTEM the better off all caregivers will be.We are like mothers & fathers to our parents now and the government should realize we are saving them a lot of money and we need to be compensated for our efforts.Likewise our siblings need to be punished for the deadbeats they are (via the IRS maybe?).
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I don't know why people say they will and then won't. Maybe they feel they will be tied down, or liable if anything happens etc. Do you have a church home? Sometimes thay have people that are will to come and help out.......
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i have asked for assistant help to pay for a home or apt for a low income senior citizen myself from the gov. but i never hear from they always advertice it that you can get help but never respond to help why is that.
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I volunteer with a group of women at my church to go to a local nursing home one time a month to bring cake and punch and gifts to the residents, many of whom have dementia, incontinence, and the various and sundry things that go wrong with advanced age.
The woman who heads this up has told me that 'you cannot believe how difficult it is the get ANYONE who is willing to go to the nursing home or be around the very elderly'. Literally, we spend about an hour there. While it amazes me, evidently many people are truly freaked out or cannot 'handle' people who have lost their senses, smell bad sometimes or have embarassing issues. Or they are afraid of death or any reminder that it's imminent. When you are up to your eyeballs taking care of a parent or spouse, by the time you really need back up you have been doing it for a while. Some people have had no experience with it, as the person above says. But probably they do care for you and want to somehow be there for you. So, as above, perhaps asking what they are willing to do. Maybe bring a few dinners over or help with laundry or run your kids to a school event would be more up their alley. Then tap into the professionals to really do the heavy lifting so to speak, with your loved one.
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Asking a friend for a commitment of help for an afrternoon now and then is reasonable. When it goes beyond that and it is not family you may get some yeses and some nos and just expect that that may be your answer when you ask. don't be offended. Bettern they hesitate and say no than to say they will do it, find it is too intrusive into their schedule and drop out leaving you with no coverage. Always try and put yourself into the shoes of the person who you are asking for help. Is there a neighbor who lives within a block walking distance who does not work that may be able to get Mom settled in when she gets home? Something where they are already home and don't have to drive to get there. That may be a more reasonable person to ask. Then find something else your friend that offered to help do that is just an afternoon now and then-have her come and you go to a movie, have your hair done, get a pedicure. Something for you. She will feel good for helping you and you will appreciate her for her time.
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I think many people operate on a superficial level. So when they act like they will be helpful at a later date, they never gave it a thought that it might actually come to pass. It's difficult to accept, as it makes you feel like you don't know who you can count on, it makes you feel insignificant and not taken seriously, as well. If there is a nursing program nearby, perhaps you can contact the school, put up ads to get volunteers and they can get some kind of credit or use you as a reference when they go for a job. Also call your local Visiting Nurses Association and see if they can help link you up with a helper.
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I have been dealing with this for the past 6 years. When people make that offer I immediately tell them it would be a tremendous help to just call or visit my dad. Of course they then waddle off feeling better because they made the offer, but they never follow up. I send emails and postcards out regularly begging for just some simple human contact for my dad. It is a very rare thing when someone does contact dad. So I too am extremely jaded. I would prefer it if people didn't even make the offer. At first it does give you false hopes. I would like to craft a response to get the message across that caregivers DO DEPEND on these offers of assistance and if you don't mean it, don't say it (the what can I do offer).
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Now to be honest here, BEFORE we all started caring for a parent/spouse or whoever, how many of us offered to pitch in and help someone, only to stop and ask ourselves 'why the heck did I offer to do THAT?'. I think that unless the person is actually in the 'trenches' so to speak, they have NO idea of what they're offering the 'help' to do. We aren't afraid of the responsibility because we've already experienced it, don't understand why the person is backing out. It's the old adage, 'unless you've walked a mile in the other persons shoes, you don't understand' idea. So Katergran, ask your friend exactly WHAT she would feel comfortable doing to help you. Let's face it, not everyone is cut out to do this, so I say we cut them some slack. Doesn't mean it's RIGHT for them to renig on a promise, but I get it.
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I totally understand, I am in the exact same situation....I am sole caregiver for my mother..for 8 ys now....with no family to help. so I am left with friends or hire n we cant afford the rates for career caregivers. Many times these friends have sed "I will watch her for you so you can go do xxxxx. I only ask when really needed but of course, they are not willing. I did once take her up on it and few hours into my day off she called saying needed to come get her, they had a change of plans, which was just BS youd see if i gave u whole story! That fiasco stressed me out so bad, hard to ask again But I did and answer was no! Guess has to be their choice of time, mood etc..but no one has ever just offered Ie...Sed "you need a break, I am gonna take your mom for a day". I would like to think any break is a good break, but when there is something really want/need to do it is much more valuable! side note the group of friends I ask are all employed as caregivers...so I really trust and know they can do it, but maybe that is why...they don't want to do it on their day's off??? Idk It is very frustrating cuz I cannot afford to pay for respite care!! most of all one of my closest friends who always sez you need a break, you need more help, has never lifted a finger to make that happen for me....and complains all the time how she needs a break and takes off all the time from her 3 kids...she certainly could give up one day / weekend for me....i would walk on water for her...it hurts to be so alone in this!!!! over the 8 years ive gotten 4-5 days off, except for a hospital stay, when she broke hip, again stressful as i worried bout her and her recovery the whole time....SO YOU ARE NOT ALONE, IF YOU CAN TAKE SOLICE IN THAT, MY LOVE N PRAYERS GO OUT TO YOU!!!...It Is not like a child sitting, happy and full of joy...No one wants to do it!!!
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If someone sincerely offers, then take them up on it. I learned a long time ago that feelings are feelings but sometimes you just have to push yourself outside your 'comfort zone' and do rather than feel.
If they have offered, and for some reason their later saying they cannot do whatever it is you ask of them, then size up whether or not they really meant it or whether or not they were trying to 'be nice', ie, feel good about themselves. Some people mean it and others, well, they mean it when they say it but aren't so hot on acting on it.
My mother, for example, offered to press six groomsmen's pants that had been transported from another state to Fla. last year after my daughter in law (then the bride to be) happened to say that the pants were all so wrinkled. The day of the wedding, though, when my DIL actually called her hotel room to ask when a good time to bring the pants up would be, my mother hemmed and hawed and made a dozen excuses. Then she set out to find me (we were hosting the reception and had a lot to do so I never agreed to that as well) to help her. When I said that I was too busy and I reminded her that after all, she said she would do it, she said "Well, I didn't think she would really TAKE ME UP ON IT!". That's my mother. Dramatic, wants to be perceived as a giving person, but, well, she's not. I told her that hey, you said you would do it and now I guess you'll have to figure it out (it was not a big job, by the way).
My point is that a) it is great and ok to accept offered help and b) you have to be realistic about who you are accepting that help from. Some times something legitimate comes up that prevents a person from following through. Sometimes they never really meant it in the first place. Also, if you really do want the help, you have to allow people to do things maybe differently than you would, in other words, you have to let go of control and be gracious about taking the help. So size people up, don't 'over expect' and take care of yourself.
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I am wondering if you specify like 2 weeks. Maybe its the long term of comitment that scares them. They may find it actually is rewarding to them and help more.
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