The Gift of Help

I’ll be honest — I don’t like asking for help. Alyson and I were brought up to believe that independence is important and that we should learn how to solve problems and get things done for ourselves.

So, when we launched our company almost eleven years ago, we bought a couple of laptops, set up email, and took care of the tech aspects of our business as best we could.

When something tech-related failed, we would try to Google a solution. If that didn’t work, we’d get on a user support page or even try calling the software or hardware manufacturer for troubleshooting suggestions.

Did it work? Sometimes. But even when it did, it was frustrating, aggravating, and so very time-consuming. Plus, it sapped our energy — energy that could have otherwise been used for… well, literally anything more productive. I could have been returning phone calls or even getting caught up on laundry. (Who am I kidding — I’ll never be caught up on laundry.)

Eventually, as the volume of our business grew, we decided to step out of our comfort zone and contract with an IT professional.

Game-changer! It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made! Now, when something stops working as it should — computer, phone, virus protection, data backup, whatever — we just pick up the phone and call our tech company. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they log-in remotely and, more often than not, fix it. It’s not free but when it comes to this particular aspect of our business — tech support — I feel like I have my life (and sanity) back. The value is absolutely worth the expense.

Finding the Right Nursing Home Is Hard

Determining which nursing home is best for your loved one can be daunting, emotionally taxing, and time consuming. Like fixing tech problems, if this is not within your area of expertise, you’re likely better off bringing in some experts. Here’s why…

#1. They have seen it all before.

The more technology that I involve in running my business, the more things that can go wrong: My Outlook calendar stops synching with my Android. My office Wi-Fi stops working. My printer suddenly decides to disappear from the network.

In most cases, each of these problems represents something I have never seen before — I hardly know where to begin to fix them. But for my tech support guys (they’re awesome, by the way), it’s a common occurrence. They can quickly diagnose and fix the problem.

Likewise, when your loved one is in need of a nursing home, you are suddenly tasked with navigating unknown territory. For example, when our client Sally’s mom fell and broke her hip, there was no one to care for her dad who is living with dementia — she had to quickly find him a nursing home. She had no idea where to start… but we did.

We are deeply familiar with nursing home performance. We know how to compare facilities based on important quality indicators such as the number of nursing hours allotted to each resident each day. Staffing ratios are one of several key indicators that can determine the quality of care for your loved one. In a process that could have taken weeks or months, we helped Sally find a nursing home with a secure unit for her dad within days.

#2. They are not emotionally attached.

Last month, while attempting to delete an email folder, I accidentally deleted my entire in-box (don’t ask, I have no idea what happened either). As you can imagine, I was in a bit of a panic. So much so that I became overwhelmed and stopped thinking clearly about how to solve the problem.

I called my tech support. They were unruffled and reassuring, and I found myself calming down. As it turned out, while they were able to retrieve most of my messages, they couldn’t get all of them back. But even that, as unfortunate as it was, gave me permission to stop worrying further. They explained why some of the messages were gone forever and I was able to move on, knowing I had found the best possible solution.

Moving to a nursing home is similarly need-driven. There is usually some incident that prompts people to look into nursing homes; a health crisis, an earlier-than-expected release from rehab, a family caregiver needs to go back to work.

In the middle of facing decisions that are overwhelming, it can be nearly impossible to pay attention to which factors matter most or even to maintain perspective. Working with an expert who is invested, but not emotionally attached, will guide you toward the best possible outcome.

#3. They will save you time.

Running down every possible nursing home option takes time — doing online research, making phone calls, asking questions, travelling to different locations, taking tours, evaluating differences, and weighing trade-offs. Even if you “have the time,” it is absolutely going to take you away from other things in your life that you would rather be doing.

Unless you feel that this research is something you want to do by yourself — some people do feel that way — you can remove much of the burden by enlisting the help of a professional within the senior care industry.


The big lesson I learned from hiring an IT company several years ago is that when things are not within the scope of my ability, I need to look to the professionals.

Yes, there are often free options that can offer what I need. But for the things that really matter, it is usually worth it to pay for an expert. Today, I happily bring in help for everything from landscaping to financial planning — even for the monthly production of this newsletter!

Finding a nursing home for your loved one works in the same way. Could you do it yourself? Yes. But a better question to ask might be, “Is there an expert that can make this easier for you?”

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