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Help: A Lesson in Acceptance

One of the hardest things we tackle in our line of work is the resistance that the notion of ‘help’ can be met with. For so many, relinquishing absolute independence feels too daunting and scary. It is so common for people to resist the help they may need because they fear that in accepting assistance, they will lose their own autonomy, control and dignity. Oftentimes, these people do not recognise or acknowledge that they need help in the first place. This may be because of the apprehension in losing control, or sometimes it is because there is a strong mentality of “everything is fine, I don’t want to cause any hassle”. I wonder if you’ve heard (or maybe thought it yourself?) those exact words before?


For two years, we have been helping an elderly gentleman with menial tasks and household chores about the home. A fiercely independent individual, he was adamant that he wanted to do as much for himself as possible and so was somewhat resistant to our help.

However, as the challenges of aging became more apparent, and with the help of a close relative of his, he agreed to more regular visits to ensure he had the necessary support, though he would often change his mind and reduce hours again last-minute, despite desperately needing help.

When the elderly gentleman rejected help from his support worker and subsequently became unresponsive to attempts to contact, ILA were the first to notice something was amiss. Concerned, we took immediate action, reaching out to his relative. Using a spare key, she discovered him on the floor, too weak to stand. Unsure what to do, she rang us for support and we immediately advised she call an ambulance.

Sadly, despite the prompt medical attention, the gentleman went into kidney failure and did not survive. We do not know how long he was on the floor for, unwell, and it was not the first time this had happened. It’s likely he would not have been found and been able to go to hospital if we were not looking out for him to alert his relative. This gentleman had a personal alarm, a device that is so essential for so many elderly people, but he chose not to use it. His reasons were not uncommon – the fear of inconveniencing others, not realising the seriousness of his own predicament, and the desire to maintain his dignity even in the most challenging of times. Living in a warden-controlled facility, he also must have assumed the warden would eventually check in on him, though sadly the warden was away on holiday at the time. Emergencies still happen even when the warden is off-duty.

His reluctance to accept help had dire consequences, and his life may have looked very different had he allowed more assistance. Our support did mean that his relative was able to spend his last hours with him, and she later said she couldn’t bear to think how much worse it could have been if we had not realised something was wrong.

While this story is undoubtedly heart-breaking, it serves as a reminder of the importance of accepting help. The reluctance to inconvenience others or lose one's dignity must not outweigh the benefits of having a support system like ILA in place. The irony is that ILA’s core mission is to enable the elderly to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. Sometimes, that means recognising where help and assistance is necessary. Having a regular, personal point of contact makes all the difference, and gives the confidence needed to continue living life to the full.

Hopefully this story will act as a call to action for everyone, especially those living alone. Embrace the support that is offered, utilise the tools and resources you have available, and recognise that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a testament to strength.

Author Bio: Chania Fox is a freelance writer with experience in publishing and copywriting. Chania has previously worked for Linen Press, the UK's leading independent female publishing press, as well as working as a copywriter for a global design consultancy with high-profile international clients. She is also available on Linkedin.


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