3 Caregivers Explain How They Ask for Help

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Mon Apr 24 2023.

Daughter hugging her father

Caregiving is hard work. Yet many caregivers juggle all their responsibilities alone. Why is that?

To find out, we spoke with several caregivers:

  • Mark Joseph, a family caregiver and founder of Parentalqueries.com

  • Marie Davis, a professional caregiver, and Certified Nursing Assistant

  • Jan Stewart, a family caregiver and the author of Hold on Tight: A Parent’s Journey Raising a Child with Mental Illness

Below, Joseph, Davis, and Stewart discuss their own caregiving journeys and talk about the challenges they’ve faced asking for help. Keep reading to see what they have to say!

Why Is It So Hard to Ask Others for Help?

Mark Joseph: “I couldn’t put into words at the time why it was so difficult for me to ask for help. But it made me feel like I was unable to do my best. It felt like admitting I wasn't strong enough to handle everything alone. At the same time, asking for help made me feel vulnerable in a way I wasn't comfortable with.” 

Marie Davis: “In my experience, family caregivers don’t always ask for help, because it can make them feel incompetent or like they’re lazy. Of course, neither is true, but it’s common to have these thoughts. Sometimes, a person’s pride or independence prevents them from asking for help.” 

Jan Stewart: “There are a myriad of reasons caregivers may not ask for help.  They may not want to burden someone else, particularly someone with their own busy life.

In my case, the very thought of having to expend energy to teach another person needed tasks loomed large, and I “knew” it would be easier for me to do these tasks myself rather than teach someone else. 

I also worried about the quality of care and the fact that someone else would not take care of Andrew [my son] as well as I do. It took me a while to reconcile that “doing it differently” than I do is not necessarily “doing it worse.” I was also concerned about destabilizing my son, whose mental health is of paramount importance to me.” 

Are There Any Ways to Make Asking for Help Easier?

Mark Joseph: “I slowly started to ask small favors of my family members, who already knew about my struggles, and they were more than willing to assist. This made me feel more comfortable, and I gradually built up the courage to ask for bigger things. I also started leaning on friends who understood my situation and were ready to offer support in any way.” 

Jan Stewart: “Caregivers must embrace the core belief that asking for help is a sign of strength rather than weakness. It’s essential to well-being. That’s half the battle. Once a caregiver realizes that help will provide them with so many benefits, ranging from decreased stress to actually improving their relationship with their loved one by giving them respite, it becomes much easier.” 

Marie Davis: “Sometimes, help is all around –– and you just don’t realize it! Reach out to family members, close friends, or trusted colleagues to assist you with care. Even if you’ve got a good handle on things, it never hurts to ask for assistance with activities like grocery shopping, paying bills, or house cleaning.”

What Are The Benefits of Asking for Help?

Jan Stewart: “I have found that the very act of asking for help gives me relief and bolsters my emotional reserves. Substitute caregivers have given me desperately needed respite and breathing room, which has allowed me to become less anxious, irritable, and weepy.

I feel healthier overall and face life with more optimism. Having help has lessened my risk of burnout and eased my overall burden. It has importantly allowed me to refuel and rebuild my own identity.” 

Mark Joseph: “Asking for help gave me a sense of confidence to take charge and reach out to others for assistance. It also built a sense of security within me that I wasn't alone in this.” 

Marie Davis: “When others are informed about your situation, they’re able to help resolve your problems. They can assist and prevent you from becoming burned out, stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated. A lending hand may change your entire outlook toward positivity.” 

Some Caregivers Live Far From a Support System. Are There Any Organizations That Can Provide Assistance In These Situations?

Mark Joseph: “Yes! Many organizations and non-profits offer support to caregivers who are living far away from their family or friends. These services typically include respite care, which provides temporary relief for the caregiver, and information about various resources available in the area.”

Marie Davis: “Yes. Some of my favorites include Live-in Care, Respite Care, AARP, National Alliance for Caregiving, Family Caregiver Alliance.” 

Jan Stewart: “Our family lives in Toronto, and neither my husband nor I have any family members nearby. This means that we have had to reach out to others, both to those we know and, as needed, to certain organizations and non-profits that can provide assistance.

As I write in Hold on Tight, we feel extremely fortunate that a family friend has agreed to be Andrew’s future legal guardian on the property/financial side once we are no longer capable of doing so, while Andrew’s sister has joined my husband and me as his personal care guardian. 

I have also successfully used respite services from two autism organizations in the past: their caregivers met Andrew at the end of each work day, socialized with him, cooked his dinner, ate with him, and prepared the next day’s meals.” 

Is There Any Other Advice You’d Like to Offer New Caregivers?

Mark Joseph: “Yes. Don’t hesitate to ask your local community for help. Many organizations and support groups may offer assistance. Online resources, such as blogs and webinars, are also helpful. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And, it’s essential to reach out for help when necessary to be the best caregiver you can be.” 

Marie Davis: “Self-care should be your top priority. It’s very important that we take care of ourselves first before we can take care of anyone else. As caregivers, we need to be there for our patients or loved ones. They expect for us to be at our best when providing care for them.”

Jan Stewart: “Self-care is essential. It’s a need, not a want, and I devote part of my book to the topic. We must take care of ourselves. This extends beyond the all-important sleeping, eating healthfully, and exercising. It involves reaching out for the support you need. It involves carving out part of your life as your own, away from everyone else, including taking critical breaks. And it means being kind to yourself, trying to forgive yourself for your mistakes, and reminding yourself of your strength and fortitude.” 


Caring for others is hard work, but asking for help can make your daily life much easier. By using some of the strategies mentioned above, you can better manage your caregiving responsibilities.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.