Baby Boomers May Need Assistance, But Resist Help


Living life to its fullest can be difficult as you age. As baby boomers age, many are finding that the concept of living longer may not be exactly what they anticipated. They are discovering they need assistance in handling daily activities, but may resist getting help.

In 2011, a study on National Health and Aging Trends was conducted with 8,000 older Americans. Researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research discovered that two-thirds of respondents over age 65 need help completing tasks of daily living, such as relying on canes, walkers, bathroom grab bars or people.

Based on the survey results, the researchers identified participants in five categories of function or adaption:

  • Mobile and able to perform daily living activities without assistance – 31 percent
  • Mobile, but need some assistance from one or more devices (cane, walker, bathroom grab bar) – 25 percent
  • Assistance needed with one or more daily living activities – 21 percent
  • Struggle with mobility or performing daily living activities, even with assistance devices – 18 percent
  • Significant limitation of activities and mobility, even with use of devices – 6 percent

Sometimes seniors with assistance issues struggle to acknowledge their needs. Consider the following nine strategies to assist older adults in accepting help:

  1. Start conversations before a crisis develops – discuss care and assistance preferences
  2. Ask open-ended questions – be patient when discussing concerns and options; listen and show empathy
  3. Explore fears and concerns – often older people are concerned about the costs of outside caregivers, or feel like they’re bothering others for help
  4. Discuss options – provide a variety of choices
  5. Get assistance from other professionals – it may be easier for an older person to discuss concerns and needs with a non-family member
  6. Prioritize issues – sometimes the list of needs is overwhelming; consider categorizing and ranking them
  7. Avoid complex details – if struggling with dementia, it may be helpful to provide minimal information to avoid overwhelming the person
  8. Ease in outside caregivers – slowly introduce outside professionals over short visits, coffee or lunch
  9. Anticipate mistakes or changes in decisions –the road to helping seniors accept assistance may be long and arduous; decisions may need adjustments so be patient