Contrary to popular belief, later life can be a testament to self-sufficiency. Most people over 60 live independently, and many even continue to take responsibility for children, grandchildren, and errant folks in need who come their way.
That said, the changes that come with age may also necessitate that you ask for help. That can feel uncomfortable if you’re not used to doing it, or if asking for help feels like admitting defeat.
Regardless of the reason why, you might want a reality check to help you come to terms with needing different kinds of support as you age. We’ve got that covered, below.
From the moment you were born, you’ve always needed some kind of support. First it was help to stay nourished, safe, and warm. Then it was help to communicate and self-regulate. Then you needed help with the changes of puberty. And then perhaps you had a curveball quarter-life or mid-life crisis for good measure, in which you relied on your community to stay afloat.
Our needs perpetually change throughout life. These changes aren’t “good” or “bad,” but they do ask us to reassess how we relate to the world around us.
Below are some ways your needs might shift in later life, requiring you to ask for different kinds of assistance. Also find suggestions on how to re-frame and make peace with needing and asking for help.
If you find yourself managing increasing fatigue, consider scaling your activity levels by asking for help. If possible, delegate a portion of your must-do tasks to a loved one. Otherwise, look into community services meant to assist people in your situation.
Think of it this way: you can’t do it all forever. By delegating and making small changes now, you get to maintain control. The alternative is to reach your breaking point and become desperate for help–losing control in the process.
This could be a cane, a walker, a motorized chair, orthotic insoles, or a stabilizing bar for your shower.
Ask yourself: does using a mobility or stability aid change anything about your situation? The one thing it probably does change is how empowered you are on a daily basis.
Whether that’s moving somewhere more accessible, making changes in order to remain in your current home (with the help of your local Area Agency on Aging or AAA), leaving an unhealthy relationship, or building more activity into your life, it’s never too late to ask for this kind of assistance.
Think of it this way: as you age, new federal, state, local, and online resources become available to you. Accessing these resources isn’t admitting defeat. In fact, it would be a defeat not to take advantage of help that is readily available.
Loss, divorce, a spouse’s illness, conflict with an adult child. Maybe you’ve never reached out for emotional support before, but in response to any of these events, it’s never too late to start. As you find yourself in new, difficult situations, consider what it might be like not to tough it out alone.
For many of us, it’s hard to come to terms with asking for help–regardless of age. So think of it this way: it may be the first time you’ve asked for help, but it’s certainly not the first time you’ve needed it.
Later life is just another variation on the very human experience of relying on others. If not now, when else will you re-frame and make peace with asking for help?