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The Life Transition Blog

Asking For Help Is Hard


I was sitting with a new client recently who had been referred by her good friend. She was seeking help making some decisions about where she would live. She realized that her expenses were too high for her means and that it was her cost of housing that had the biggest impact. She wanted to sort through her options. During our first meeting, my client expressed to me how difficult it had been for her to make the call to me, and that she had been carrying a slip of paper with my phone number around for several weeks before she made the call. When I asked her why, she told me that she was embarrassed to ask for help.

This isn’t so unusual. I find that many clients have a hard time admitting to themselves that they need some outside input. They may feel that they “should have known better” regarding some decision they made, often years before. Or they tell me that they followed the advice of a friend and the outcome wasn’t good. Several have told me that they don’t want their children to know that they are in a pickle. Others realize that they can’t quite manage their affairs as they used to be able to and fear that they will lose their independence if anyone finds out. Whatever the reason, it’s a rare week goes by when a client doesn’t tell me that they wished they had called sooner.

We live in a complicated world, and that world has changed dramatically during our lifetimes. For those who have always been on top of their personal and financial affairs it can be sobering to realize that they are not as sharp as they once were. For those who never handled household finances, the loss of a spouse who took care of such matters can be devastating. The word I hear most often in my practice is “overwhelmed.”

Sometimes, it is easier to ask for help from an objective third party than from close family, especially our children. We don’t want them to think that we are losing it, don’t want to burden them with the added responsibility, or feel like we should be able to take care of matters on our own. I find that I spend a lot of my time with clients helping them to maintain their independence by keeping an eye on the business of life for them. They know that they have a safety net in place and that gives them the confidence to continue to try to do for themselves. It also helps them to not be taken advantage of by the many people looking to defraud older adults.

It’s not a crime to need help and ask for it. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long. If you do, you may find that the very thing you were most afraid of – losing your independence – is exactly what happens.
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