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Blog archive

July 2024

June 2024

May 2024

Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Farewell from the 2023/24 Social Work Interns

Gina on the Horizon

Mark Your Calendars for the Healthy Aging Research California Virtual Summit

Meet Our New Development Associate

Putting the Strategic Plan into Practice

Washington Park: Pasadena’s Rediscovered Gem

Introducing Civil Rights Discussions

Rumor of Humor #2416

Rumor of Humor #2417

Rumor of Humor #2417

Rumor of Humor #2418

Springtime Visitors

Freezing for a Good Cause – Credit, That Is

No Discussion Meeting on May 3rd

An Apparently Normal Person Author Presentation and Book-signing

Flintridge Center: Pasadena Village’s Neighbor That Changes Lives

Pasadena Celebrates Older Americans Month 2024

The 2024 Pasadena Village Volunteer Appreciation Lunch

Woman of the Year: Katy Townsend

April 2024

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

Caring for Ourselves and Each Other

By Claire Gorfinkel
Posted: 02/27/2024
Tags: care team, claire gorfinkel

Can you help me with something? I wonder how you react to this question. I know for many of us, it is an energizer. Both our enthusiasm and our anxiety may be aroused. We become poised for the succeeding question, wondering what we will be asked to do.

For many years I led workshops which included what I called “An Exercise in Asking for Help.”  People paired off. One had to ask the other for help with something. It could be something they really needed, or something they made up. But the respondent had to answer honestly, from the heart: “I’d love to help you with that …” or “I couldn’t possibly do that, but I know someone who could ...” or “I need to know more about what you need …” or whatever. When the whole group came back together, I asked “What did it feel like to ask another person to help you?” and most people said it made them fairly uncomfortable. Asking another, even a friend, for help was awkward, made them feel vulnerable.

But then I asked the group: “What did it feel like to be asked?” and their answers surprised them.  “I loved it!”  “It made me feel so good to think I could be useful.”  “I was ready to dig right in.”  “She made me feel like I could make a difference!”  “This could be the start of a whole new relationship!”

All too often we see this dilemma at the Village. Someone — or their partner — has just come home from the hospital. Another has recently endured a loss. Many are working long hours as the caregiver for a loved one. Some are gradually recovering following rehab. Some are simply lonely and seeking connection. Others are looking for resources in anticipation of an upcoming medical diagnosis or treatment. But they just don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to be a bother. We have been conditioned to assert our independence: “I can do it myself.”  We fear our needs will be too much, or admitting vulnerability will make us break down. It’s all I can do to hold on here!

How can the Village help? Village volunteers (who, by the way, really want to be of help) will happily provide an occasional meal, in-person visits or phone calls, a listening ear, some respite, a ride, a walk, an invitation to a Village event, a referral to someone else who has been through your diagnosis, treatment, situation, or knows about home care agencies, or hospice, a card, some cookies … what is it that you need?

We are here to support one another. We are here to build community, to combat loneliness, to have fun and interesting times together, to build friendships that will help sustain us when things get tough.

But we can’t do it if you don’t tell us what you want or need! 

How can we all remember what a delight it is to be asked for help? I urge you to think about how much you, and others, love to be asked for advice, love to be asked for assistance, love to feel useful and needed. Your need can bring joy and satisfaction to someone else.

Villagers, you can call the Village office, or a member of the Care Team (ask the Village staff for names of Care Team members), tell your neighborhood group or walking buddy. Let us know. Let us care for you. I think you’ll be glad — and relieved — that you did . . . without a doubt, the person asked will feel needed and appreciated.

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