Asking others for help


Asking for and accepting help from others creates a stronger support system for the older adult. It also helps you to practice self-care.


Family, friends, neighbors and others are often willing to help older adults. They simply might not have been asked. Maybe they’re not sure if they should offer, or don’t know what they could do to help.


Ask who the older adult would be comfortable getting help from, including:

  • Family members, both those who live nearby and farther away

  • Friends and neighbors

  • Co-workers, from current or former jobs

  • People from the faith, community, service or social groups that the older adult belongs to

Make it easy for others to help the older adult or you by:

  • Starting discussions early: Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and the older adult needs significant help. Ask for help with smaller things, like running errands or checking in with the older adult.

  • Asking for help with specific tasks: Being specific gives others the information they need to know whether they can take on that task.

  • Considering others’ skills: What interests, training, or professional or life experiences do your potential helpers have?

  • Saying what is most needed: Suggest options that you think are a good fit for someone’s time and skills, but if you really need help with a particular task, say so.

  • Asking for others’ thoughts: You don’t have to come up with all the options and solutions yourself. Others can help by making suggestions, researching options and finding local resources.

  • Being honest about the situation: Talk about your healthy limits and any concerns you might have about the tasks that others are helping with.

  • Encouraging healthy limits: Be clear that no one should feel pressure to say yes to helping in ways that make them stressed or uncomfortable.

For example, you might:

  • Ask for help: “Would you be able to go grocery shopping for the older adult once a week?”

  • If the person says no, suggest other tasks or ask for their input: “Do you have time for other tasks, like driving the older adult to appointments or helping with yardwork?”

  • If the person says yes, describe the task and agree on next steps: “Thanks, I appreciate that! I’ll send you the details for the appointment that the older adult needs a ride to next Tuesday.”

  • Or take no for an answer: “I understand and know that the older adult enjoys visiting with you, whenever you have time.”