Are seniors afraid to ask for help?

The world rewards strength success.

We are taught from our early days the importance of winning and succeeding and being the best. Few stories are told at bedtime of second place achievements – first is what matters. And in our climb toward the top of the heap, there is no place for weakness, no tolerance for failure. Even the Bible reiterates this explaining that God helps those who help themselves. We are the master of our own destiny and should not need to ask for help.

Is it any surprise then that we seniors display a reluctance to reveal any chink in our armor, anything that may be perceived as weakness, anything that makes us appear less than perfect? No matter what our age, we often believe that we can handle whatever is thrown our way and do so all by our self.

Old age is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to a man ~ Leon Trotsky

Humans as a species are not at the top of the food chain based on our physical attributes. There are a lot of bigger and badder creatures in the jungle that could make a quick meal of us. It is our brain not our brawn that set us in control of our fellow creatures. Thinking and reasoning, using our experience and education, analyzing the situation and taking appropriate action – that is how we survive.

And yet when it comes to using that same brain to realize that we are not perfect and that we may need to ask for help from others things tend to get a little murky. The reality is that if we lower our guard, if we let someone get close to our true feelings and fears, we could be better off. We could use their help. All we have to do is let them in and be vulnerable. How big of a risk can that be? Big enough that many senior citizens prefer to struggle and suffer and often times fail rather than risk revealing a need that shows us to be less than that strong, self-sufficient person that we feel we must be. Superman to the end, even when kryptonite is in the room and someone else can easily save us if we just ask for help.

All would live long, but none would be old ~ Ben Franklin

As we age like it or not we become more dependent on those around us, subject to frustrations, insecurities, and a loss of control that comes with old age. Little things begin to be not so little anymore. Try though we may to do it ourselves, senior citizens need help to get by. We need to acknowledge the limitations of our aging bodies and not be afraid to ask for help. How much easier that is to say than to implement! We treasure our independence and will not surrender it without a fight. But in the end, who wins the war?

How to ask for help

  • Acceptance – there is no denying it – aging will eventually take its toll and we will no longer be the spritely young whipper-snappers we once were. No fault of our own – it is just the nature of things. Accepting our old age is like a marriage – we are committed to it for life for better or worse! And like a marriage, there will be good days and bad as well as times when we will need the help of our spouse and others. We cannot get through life without the help of others. If we choose to deny this irrefutable fact, we are in trouble. Once we accept our state of affairs and embrace our “elderliness” along with its inherent needs, we can begin to move forward. How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young — or slender. ~ William James
  • Realization – yes I am getting older, things are not as easy as they used to be, and I must face my retirement fears – I grudgingly accept this. Now it is important to realize that I can benefit from the help of others. Now is the time to realize that alone, I may struggle but with the help of others, I am made stronger. I am not an expert in all things and only appear the fool if I pretend to be so. If I am smart, I realize that a little humility goes a long way.
  • Willingness to ask – accepting my inevitable situation as a senior citizen of the world and realizing that there are others who can help me through difficult times along my life’s journey, now I must simply be willing to ask for help. I am vulnerable at this time as theoretically I may be refused or my “perfect image” sullied by a self-confessed weakness. But it is truly worth the risk.

I do not believe that we were made to go it alone. We are a social animal and we enjoy being with others.

I believe that people are by default good and if asked, more than willing to lend a helping hand and support us.

I believe that there is no reason to be afraid – all we have to do is ask.