Why do people offer to help and then back down when asked?

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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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