Tag Archive | accepting help

Sharing the Care

friendshipUPDATE: If you read yesterday’s post, you understand it was rather a “taxing” day. However, after getting out of the house, buying the printer cartridges and taking a stroll through “Michael’s” craft store, I felt better. So when I returned from this hour out of the house, I went back to the Turbo Tax site, placed a simple zero into the box, and voila! The returns were accepted by the government. Woo-Hoo!

What I didn’t tell you was a delightful woman met with Ken and me yesterday morning. She was from the Aging and Disability Resource Center. This time, it was to inform us of a “Share the Care” program.

One of the toughest parts of being a caretaker is asking for help. That four-letter word is trouble for all of us, but it’s one we have to learn. After all, friends and family want to help. And we are very lucky. We have been blessed by family and friends who had helped without asking; they have stepped forward and done many things for us–like his aunts and uncles, cousins and others pooling their money for a wheelchair ramp. And then hiring Scott who built  it for us. Yes, Scott was paid for his services, but I know his estimate didn’t fully cover all of the time and care he put into the job. You see, Scott is not only a meticulous contractor, he’s become a wonderful friend. When I cornered him to offer more money, which he richly deserved, he said, “As long as you’re happy, Barb, I’m satisfied.”  He built something beautiful for us. What a gift!

The frustrations that come along ,which caretakers feel silly asking for hel, are the little things– like fixing a leaky toilet or helping drag patio furniture out from the garage, or cleaning gutters. I feel I should be able to figure these things out alone. But when I add these simple things to the paperwork, bill paying, housework, and stepping in when Ken needs help with some small task frequently throughout the day, they get overwhelming, so admitting I need this program of friends and family to help me was a big decision. It caused me to once again choke on my pride.

It got easier when a good friend stepped forward and volunteered to coordinate such activities, and I breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief. Now, all I will have to do is tell her what I need, and she will go forth and conquer.

Hillary was right. It does take a village!

That Four-Letter Word

Which wayAnother grey February day, but my spirits are bright. Snow is coming, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I finally found direction.

Yesterday afternoon Ken and I met with a representative from the ADRC — Aging and Disability Resource Center. It was a pleasant visit. Much more pleasant than I anticipated. I admit, some of the questions we had to answer were a little embarrassing, but at the end of the meeting, I felt lighter.

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know my pride gets in my way — on occasion. It’s in my DNA to be ashamed of defeat. It turns out my Grandfather had to accept “RELIEF” during the depression when he was fired from his job. For him, accepting money from the government to feed his family of eight was humiliating. He had fought for years to make it BIG in America as an Italian immigrant. But when both of us were backed into a corner for the sake of our family, we had to put our pride aside and ask for assistance. Liked Grandpa, I am backed into a corner, which gave me two choices, lay down and quit, or come out swinging. I chose the latter. And like Grandpa, I decided it was finally  time to fight for some help.

Ken’s MS and my long-term unemployment has destroyed our financial situation. And through the last three years, things have changed. Now, I must be home to care for him. He can no longer stay alone all day long, so full time employment is out of the question. Like everything complex, on one hand this is a curse, on the other it’s a blessing. After all, look at all the wonderful time we get to spend together.

As the ADRC  interview progressed, we found out we are eligible for financial assistance. We aren’t sure of the nuts and bolts of it all, and there’s TONS of paperwork to wade through, (it is the government, you know) and it will take time. But with guidance of helpful people and learning to utter that four-letter word, HELP, we will get some relief from some of the pressures we’ve been enduring for three years.

So, the next time you have a choice to yell, HELP! or keep quiet, I’m all for the yelling–now that I can utter the word out loud.

Saying that, just remember asking for HELP is a practiced behavior. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it on the first try.