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Asking for help from your family isn't always easy. It may come naturally for those with a close-knit family, but for others it may appear needy. The secret to getting support often requires a bit of forward planning.
By
Amy Chien-Yu Wang

20 Jul 2018 - 4:11 PM  UPDATED 20 Jul 2018 - 4:11 PM

75-year-old Loretta is used to doing everything herself. As the sole carer of her 81-year-old husband who lives with Alzheimer’s, she admits there is a reason why asking her family for help doesn’t come easy.
“Pride stops us from asking. I do ask if I absolutely have to and they don't mind doing it, you know? They’re pretty good. But I think, you know, that's admitting to yourself you’re getting old and you don’t manage so well.”
This fierce independence is ingrained in the psyche of many baby-boomers, says Tanja Gawin, a social worker from the Melbourne-based Australian-German Welfare Society.
“Generally a trait of somebody who’s lived all their live independently and has also looked after themselves independently which might be a German or a European trait but they definitely do not like asking for help.”

Migrants tend to rely on their children to offer help rather than asking them directly.

Melbourne-based social worker Anu Krishnan explains.
“They don't directly ask for help and sometimes they just kind of also feel they might be putting extra burden on their children or they may feel hurt that the child is not noticing the stress or difficulty.”
A typical example is complaining about the aches and pains rather than asking to be taken to see a doctor.
“What they’re really hoping is that the children that they're staying with would be like, ‘oh, is your knee hurting? Do you think we need to see the doctor?’

They would just be expecting that to happen because that's what they would have done for their parents when they were younger.”

“Pride stops us from asking. I do ask if I absolutely have to and they don't mind doing it, you know? They’re pretty good. But I think, you know, that's admitting to yourself you’re getting old and you don’t manage so well.”

Psychologist Andrea Crane says asking for help can avoid stress and anxiety.  

“When they don't reach for the support that they need they might develop depression and anxiety. It’s like not having their needs met so they get very frustrated and very low in mood. Sometimes they’re presented with anxiety feelings.”
Reaching out to others isn’t always easy, especially if you’re used to being the one who provides support. Crane says honesty is the first step.
“The very basic communication skill is to just sit there and be as clear as they can and open as they can right. Even though it’s hard, with the support of specialist or the doctors, to get to the point where they can accept that they need that help and they can communicate that without feeling that, you know, they’re just stepping on boundaries.”
If it’s not in your nature to ask for assistance, perhaps start by sharing regular quality time with your loved ones such as going for walks or doing activities together. 
“The most important thing is that they can find that quality time with their family members to improve that communication, right. So, it will be just to try to find that time to spend with them and to just deal with daily situations where they can.”
Anu Krishnan says a preventive approach is best-practice.
“For example, a regular medical check-up every 3 months or every 4 months so the parents don't have to ask to be taken to the doctor but if it’s done regularly, then these things can be addressed before they become big issue.”
Finances can be a particularly contentious subject for families.

Many older migrants tend to entrust their lifelong savings to their children at the risk of losing their financial freedom.

Krishnan suggests setting up bank transfers so you have money regularly coming into the account.
“So that way they don't feel that they have to ask their children for their own money that they do have that financial independence.”
Loretta had her mother live with her family for twenty years until she passed away at 91. But she doesn't expect her own children to do the same.  
“So at the moment, I can still drive. And while I can still drive and get around that's fine. I haven't made any arrangements for when I can’t… I have to be honest.”