If you have to rely on someone else for help, it’s easy to feel like a burden. In my experience there are several things you can do to make sure you maintain a healthy relationship with the people around you who help you.
Maintain your manners
No matter how often you say “please” and “thank you,” the words are always appreciated. I don’t care how many times you’ve said “thank you” to someone who has done something for you — keep on doing it, every time they help you. I’ve seen in several patient/caregiver relationships where the patient forgets to use those golden words. One of the first things out of the caregiver’s mouth will be, “He doesn’t even say ‘thank you’ anymore!” It can and will lead to resentment. Do not take those who help you for granted or pretty soon they won’t be so excited to help.
Return the favor
Although physically you might not be able to do a lot to help someone who has helped you, there are ways you can return the favor. Sometimes something as simple as offering a cup of coffee and conversation can be enough. If you still drive, there might come a time when somebody needs a ride somewhere. Don’t feel compelled to buy people gifts, but if there’s a special occasion around the corner, doing something extra special is a nice way to return the favor. Think about what skills you have and the things you have to offer, then be on the lookout for opportunities to give back.
Spread the requests for help around
If you keep asking the same person for help all the time, that person can quickly become worn out. Although I don’t need help that often, I do make sure I try to rotate who I ask for help first, sort of like a batting order. Obviously there are times when a particular person might be best suited to help you out, so go to that person first. If you don’t have a large rotation of people to ask for help, it might be a sign you need to seek external assistance.
Look outside your circle for help
You might find that you don’t have a lot of people in your immediate circle to call on for help. This can be frustrating for both you and the people helping you. In this case it might be worthwhile to seek volunteers in your local area who you can call on for assistance. There are many church-run and volunteer organizations out there who might be able to assist. If you have money available, it’s easy to bring in paid help if necessary.
Give your helpers a break
Every caregiver needs a break, especially if they’re your round-the-clock caregiver or spouse. These people need time to re-charge and relax and do things not involving you. It’s important to remember that nobody can physically or mentally perform well if they don’t take a break from what they are doing. There are caregiver support groups and even camps available.
The other aspect about thinking you’re being a burden is that you might not be a burden at all. This is especially true if you’re not particularly needy but do need help every once in a while. Sometimes in this case, it’s difficult to ask for help because you feel like it’s something you should be able to do, but can’t and you don’t want to inconvenience someone. Often times people like to help and will gain some personal satisfaction from doing so.