So many caregiving guides make it sound like there’s plenty of help to be had, if only caregivers would ask.

We know that’s not quite how it works.

Yes, some caregivers don’t ask for help and your chances of success improve if you ask the right way, but it’s a fact that lots of our requests for help will fall on deaf ears.

Or the ears of people who really would love to help, but are too busy that day. Some people just won’t help.

Here’s the story of real caregivers who’ve gotten help, how they got it, and how it worked out.

It’s worth it to keep asking and keep searching.


I have been wanting tangible help for years. I have tried to get VA caregiver respite and they say it is a long process, so try the county. I contacted my county, but unless you are broke and nearly homeless you don’t qualify — and if the receiver can handle most ADLs, forget it.

That leaves either pay $30 an hour or hire a kid. When what we need is some help with chores and companionship, $30 an hour is best saved for other things.

In 10 years the only respite I have found was through Lifespan Respite. They offered $1000 worth of time in a voucher, but that included drive time for the caregiver and the only women who could come was an hour away. We lost two hours worth of her service, but she was great.

But that was 3 years ago. I have yet to find a way to get a break. As the caregiver, I knew I would need help. Friends are great, but I wanted a helping hand from someone who could think in advance about what I might like — because a caregiver knows.

Yesterday I had help — but it became a major annoyance. Three guys all at once felt like it was a football party not a recovery room.

Nancy Lamb


I am parent and primary caregiver to my 26 year old disabled son. He was on the waiting list in our state of PA and after completing his schooling at 21, then was pulled from the waiting list and after a few months or so was approved for caregiving services in the home.

We went through 2 agencies and about 10 caregivers before coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t working for us. The caregivers were either poor in attendance, were no-shows, or actually fell asleep while on the job. We could not depend on them.

Now, I was approved back in summer 2016 to be paid to caregiver for my son. I went through the application process, job interview, training and am now an employee of a caregiver agency.

I really needed the financial support so this worked out. The only drawback is that I never receive respite. I only have my middle son to fill in for me when I need to leave the home to run errands.

The rest of extended family and father to my son has basically “checked out” of the situation. So it goes.

My son, Rob, has seizure disorder, Epilepsy and is both mentally and physically challenged. He falls into the Autism Spectrum and is officially diagnosed as developmentally delayed. He is homebound. His first seizure was at age 2 1/2. His physical body slowly deteriorated over time. He use to be able to walk and attend school and social functions until his late teenage years when his legs gave out and he couldn’t walk and eventually could not sit up.

He is mostly a happy young man with a great smile and a laugh that brightens up the room.

Barb Ward


When I ask for help, it’s asking for driving assistance to either a haircut or the dentist. If help is not available, I just rearrange my schedule. So far, I haven’t need ‘personal’ assistance in the form of toileting or grooming or walking-type help…but it’s coming.

So, I have no ‘helpless’ experiences other than those I create in my head. I’m fortunate, as my husband’s Atypical Parkinsonism is not acute enough to warrant daily assistance.

Melissa Batavia


My husband had a buddy who was a former coworker who would take him for coffee each weekday morning and sometimes on the weekends, too. He was retired and probably felt obligated to do something for him.

After my husband was released from the hospital he had outpatient and home visiting therapists and nursing. He performed well for the therapists, but  didn’t follow through on his own. He had two times that he was sent to care centers near the end of 2015 and almost used his 100 days covered by Medicare because of silent aspiration pneumonia.

The county supplied a senior companion. He worked out great, he had been a CNA, knew about electronics and got a DVD and earphones set up for my husband. They got along great. My husband was against the idea of a senior companion at first, but once he met the guy he came around. The company he was working through went out of business. Before we could arrange for him to come back through a different company my husband was back in the hospital and passed away.

I asked for help and didn’t get any more times than I can get into.

People tell you to let them know what you need, but come up with all sorts of excuses when you ask for their help. No one truly understands your situation unless they’ve experienced it themselves.

Catherine Ford-Barbiero


My favorite way to find help is by hiring someone whose personality is a caregiver personality but who is not a CNA/Medical type caregiver. The people that I have hired this way are now friends of mine and helped my Dad get through some very tough times with his Lewy Body Dementia.

Joy Meason Intriago


I do not get any help at all in being caregiver for my dad who is 78.
Because he retired from the railroad and does get enough benefits to
support himself. However those benefits do not provide any help for me, his caregiver.

Just recently my son qualified for an IFS Waiver, which allows me to get paid to be his caregiver. However the maximum hours I get are 37 hours a month.

Mimi Leow


Some responses have been edited for grammar and clarity.

About Cori Carl

As Director, Cori develops our comprehensive global communications and development strategy. She’s constantly tweaking our services based on data-driven marketing metrics and feedback from caregivers. She works to grow our community and build the reputation of The Caregiver Space by amplifying the message on social media, cultivating relationships with experts, creating organizational partnerships, and earning media coverage. She’s an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for Caregivers.

Cori joined The Caregiver Space after a decade of serving as a communications consultant for a number of nonprofit organizations and corporations furthering sustainable energy and urban planning solutions.

Cori has an MA in Corporate Communications from Baruch College at CUNY and a BA in Media Studies from Eugene Lang College at the New School University. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Toronto.

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