5 Best Caregiver Tips For Getting Family To Help

5 Best Caregiver Tips For Getting Family To Help

Do you struggle to get the family to help you take care of a loved one? One of the biggest challenges I hear from family caregivers is how to get family members to help them in some capacity or another.

Sometimes, people think we are doing such a great job and don’t complain so we must not need help. Other times, family or friends are busy living their lives and don’t stop to think about your needs. One of the biggest things we can do for ourselves is to ask for help! Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed and exhausted to ask for help. Here are my 5 Best Caregiver Tips For Getting Family To Help (so you can stress less):

Tip #1: Be prepared with a list of ways others can support you.

If someone asks how they can help, bring out your virtual, electronic or notepad of things and ask for help with a specific item. Being prepared with a list of specific ways others can help increases the likelihood that you’ll receive the help you need. People want to help, they just don’t know what you need. It’s up to you to tell them how they can best help.

One of the biggest things family caregivers can do for themselves is to ask for help! Click To Tweet

If you need help, here are some ideas to get you started: 

  1. Take the person you care for on a 10-minute walk several times a week.
  2.  Pick up a few things for you at the grocery store.
  3.  Do your lawn or gardening.
  4.  Open your mail and separate piles. Organizing the mounds of paperwork is huge.
  5.  Offer respite by sitting with your loved one while you nap, go to the doctor, the store or a movie.
  6.  Take your kids for the night or weekend.
  7.  Get your car oil changed or a car wash.
  8.  Pick up the kids from school or take them where they need to be.
  9.  Assisting with doctor visits.
  10. Clean the house.
  11. Change the sheets.
  12.  Review the physical environment for safety. 
  13. Make calls.
  14. Run errands.
  15. Dog walking.

Here are some specific things that family members who live afar can help with: 

  1.  Fill out insurance paperwork.
  2.  Make calls for you or your loved one.
  3. Schedule appointments.
  4. Update finances/banking information.
  5.  Draft letters.
  6. Do taxes.
  7. If money is needed, ask someone to create/coordinate a fundraiser for the family via an in-person event or using an online tool. Crowdfunding campaigns, such as Give Forward, GoFundMe, and You Caring, can be a great source of financial relief for you and the person receiving care.
  8. Set time aside and visit or call your loved one periodically.
  9. Send you and your loved one messages of support.

Tip #2: Choose who to ask for help and what to ask them for based on their time, preferences, abilities and strengths.

If uncle Bob hates anything related to money, don’t ask him to do taxes or reconcile statements. Perhaps Aunt Mary hates shopping, she’s not the one to ask for a grocery store run. Maybe your brother works 80 hours a week, has a family and lives 2 hours away, he’s probably not the one to ask for things that require a lot of travel.  Identify who has asked to help in the past, and, now armed with your list, find 1-3 options and go forth and ask and watch the support roll in. 

Tip #3: Be specific when asking for help.

One of the best ways to get the help you need is to be specific with your ask. Here are some tips to help assert yourself:

  1. Timing is everything. Pick the best time to request help.
  2. Avoid weakening your request. “Itʼs only a thought, but would you consider staying with Mom while I went to church?” Wording things this way makes it sound like itʼs not very important to you. Use “I” statements to make specific requests: “I would like to go to church on Sunday. Would you stay with Mom from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.?”
  3.  Give people a few options. Say something like, “I really need help taking care of Mom. Here are some specific ways I need help. (list them) and ask, “Would you be willing to help me (and Mom) by doing one of these things?”

“Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.”

Tip #4: Take a “no” answer as a no for now.

Don’t get discouraged if people decline your request for help. It can definitely be upsetting for the family caregiver when a person is unable or unwilling to help. However, it’s not worth straining your relationship over. It may be that they are going through a difficult time and you weren’t aware of it. Maybe the person has overextended themselves and they are practicing creating healthy boundaries for themselves. Perhaps the thing you asked them to do isn’t something they feel they can commit to.

There are lots of reasons you get a no answer. Don’t take it personally and put them back on the list to rotate another ask later.

Tip #5: Have a list of 3-5 emergency contacts.

One of the best things you can do to promote peace of mind for you AND the person receiving care is to have a list on the refrigerator (and in your phone) of 3-5 people who have agreed to receive calls 24/7 365 days a year and BE there in the event of an emergency, scheduled procedure, or other scheduled event. These people may not be family but they people are your lifeline. The list includes their names, mobile phone numbers, alternative number and email (optional). These people will be there to watch little ones, get kids off to school if you can’t be there, take care of your loved one, etc…  When you KNOW you have people on speed dial that will help at a moment’s notice, that makes all the difference in the world!


I realize it’s not always easy asking for help. It used to be that asking for help was about as easy as rowing uphill for me. I learned how to ask for and receive help. This is the time to reach out.

Your sanity and health depend on your ability to maintain overall wellness. Remember, your loved one’s quality of care also depends on your well being and the ability to rally support.

Make sure you carefully review with others your needs and point out areas they may be of service. Then:

  • Ask the person if they’d like to help, and if so, in what way.
  • Make sure the person understands what would be most helpful to both you and the caregiving recipient. Ask if they’d like to help and how you can count on them.
  • Release and let go and watch the support roll in.

“Sometimes you don’t realize you’re actually drowning when you’re trying to be everyone else’s anchor.” Click To Tweet

MOST OF ALL… know, feel and believe that EVERYTHING you are feeling is completely normal.  You are demonstrating courageous acts of unconditional love. Know you are not alone.

If you are a family caregiver, I invite you to join my free private Empowered Family Caregiver facebook group. Click to join HERE. 



Did you get value from this article? Please comment below and share it with others.

If you’d like to listen to this article on my Empowered Family Caregiver Podcast, listen in here:

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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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6 replies
  1. Cathy Sykora
    Cathy Sykora says:

    What a great list. I would have liked to have had this 4 weeks ago when my husband had both knees replaced. I felt alone and doing some of this would have been helpful. “Be prepared with a list of ways others can support you.” would be a lifesaver. I hired someone to come in and help out in the house, but I never anticipated all the “nursing” and my husband turned that down. No one but I could put on his ted hose 🙂 Caregivers are undervalued for sure.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      I agree 100% Caregivers are undervalued for sure! When the caree doesn’t want others to help, it puts on added stress for the family caregivers. I hope your husband is healing nicely.

  2. Sharona ES
    Sharona ES says:

    Tip #2: Choose who to ask for help and what to ask them for based on their time, preferences, abilities and strengths… this is great to make sure the right person for the help…Asking me to cook a dinner would be disastrous, but I’m really good at doing research….

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      I feel the same way, Sharona. As a family caregiver, asking the right person for the right help is the best way to get the help you need. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Claudette Chenevert
    Claudette Chenevert says:

    Tandy, you shared some really important and great points around care-giving. When Bernard had his cancer, I didn’t know how to ask for help because I had no idea what I needed. I worked from a very short vision of what I needed – AKA daily needs.
    With your list, I can be of help to family and friends who are going through health challenges.
    This is a great post to help us all.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thanks for your comments, Claudette. Like when Bernard had cancer, you hit the nail on the head that family caregivers often think about their daily (and sometimes hourly) needs. I’m glad this post will help you provide support for your friends and family.


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