The Greatest Generation Doesn’t Ask for Help

June 6, 2024

The Greatest Generation Doesn’t Ask for Help. I wrote this several years ago while in my Home Care Business. Today seems so appropriate to bring it out again. I knew a lot of people that could wear that Greatest Generation label; for the survivors, unfortunately they won’t be with us much longer.

I always marvel how they did what had to be done and moved on to rebuilding their lives and the lives of so many others around the world. They came home, went to school, started businesses and now that the world was back on its axis and a whole lot safer, started families. They carried on, they may have looked back at the horror and the bravery they observed, but they didn’t talk very much about it.

One of those people was my father. He joined the Navy in his late 20’s, way older than most and became a Chief Pharmacists Mate. Dad knew a lot about medicine, today, on June 6th, 80 years ago, he stepped into having to be a doctor, a care giver and a wise elder who helped many of the younger men on board their LST crossing the English Channel. They were entering into a Hell they may never exit from. On board their LST landing transport, they carried troops and equipment to the beaches of Normandy and carried the dead and wounded back to England. He and others made that round trip across the English Channel at least 3 times. In his journal, he wrote of many ships just like his that didn’t survive. He was one of the lucky and so was I.

Know How Your Parents are Doing

When we were in the Home Care business, we used to provide this information about Using Your 5 Senses to Assess your Parents Situation around the holidays.
With recent events and family and lifestyle disruptions, get togethers are not always as regular as they once were. Holidays afforded us an opportunity to see how things are going with mom and dad. If we live far away, it may have been a while since we last saw them. If a trip is not in the cards, there are alternatives to catching up. We’ve listed several at the end of this article.

Getting First Hand Information

Getting first hand information can often dispel or confirm our concerns over whether they are OK and if maybe, they could use some extra help.
Crying out and saying I can’t do something is not typically among the characteristics of these folks who survived the great depression only to be called upon during World War II to save the world.
If you haven’t experienced it yet, you probably will.I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” . . . . “I WANT TO STAY IN MY OWN HOME!” . . . . “NOBODY CAN DO IT RIGHT!” . . . . “I’M FINE” . . . . “I DON’T NEED ANY HELP! . . . . (the Capital Letters are because sometimes they were pretty emphatic about it.) Our parents are great at insisting that all is well. Getting firsthand information can often dispel or confirm our concerns over whether they are “OK” and if they maybe could use some extra help.

Remember What They Did

Remember that beyond all that, they went on to sculpt the greatest nation in history. Admit that they can’t do something? No way! Underlying that may be a deep concern that if they admit they need help with something, it becomes a chink in their armor. They may fear that a simple admission that they are human may be perceived as; they are incapable of caring for themselves and should move into a nursing home or at least an assisted living residence. Not wanting any part of that, these survivors Deny, Deny, Deny!
The problem is that with age comes difficulty in doing certain things. The more things you can’t do for yourself, the greater the chance that independent living is no longer viable. Couple this with the increased chance of an accident or mishap, all of a sudden options become more and more limited.
In fact, what may fear most, leaving their homes, may result because of a crisis that could have been avoided.

Using You’re senses

You can observe the way things are going with your folks or your neighbors and it’s a good means of determining whether it’s time to have a heart-to-heart talk with them. Some of the signs that you should be aware of are:


Looking at your parent’s appearance can be a sign that they are being limited either physically or mentally from completing otherwise normal daily tasks.

Is their clothing stained, wrinkled or worn?
Do they dress appropriately for the weather or the situation?
Is their hair uncombed?
Do their teeth appear clean?
Does she continue to wear makeup? Is he shaved?
Look at the car. Is it dented and dinged?
Is the house as orderly and clean as it normally is?


Listening to what and how they speak can tell you a lot about their current mental status. Don’t assume that “old age” is causing these problems; doing so can sometimes cause their mental state to decrease further.
Do they call you by name?
Do they call you by your name or nickname?
Are they speaking normally?
Are they up on the news?
Have they continued their outside activities?
Do they have future plans or goals?


Using your nose as an indicator can help you determine if your family member is.

Bathing properly. Participating in otherwise normal activities (cleaning their house), or

Whether or not they are eating regularly (if they have spoiled food in their kitchen).
Does their living environment possess any unpleasant odors?
Do the refrigerator or cupboards smell?
Are the plants thriving?
Is there an unusual amount of garbage, clutter, dust, or dirt?


A simple hug could tell you that your family member is fragile, losing weight and putting him or herself in jeopardy of injury or even malnourishment from not eating properly.
Do they appear healthy?
Touch their skin – is it soft, supple and is it the color normal?
Do they have unusual tearing or bruising of the skin
Are they losing weight
How are their sight, hearing and taste?


Checking their food and sorting through their medications can help you determine if they are eating healthy or even worse, taking expired medicine.
Do they have fresh and stocked pantry items?
Look at the expiration dates. How does the food taste?
Does the person appear to move around the kitchen safely?
Are there many different prescriptions?
Has their personality changed? Do they seem withdrawn or depressed?
Might alcohol consumption be a concern? Interaction with medication can have visible effects.
Do the medications come from different doctors or pharmacies?
What about the expiration dates on the medications?
Are bills being paid on time?

Then What?

You may notice that there is no change whatsoever. Changes may be gradual or sudden. Being aware of these changes enables you to help your parent become proactive and hopefully accept help before a crisis forces more radical changes.

In the event that you feel some intervention is needed, there are a multitude of resources to assist you. Starting with local Commissions on Aging, State run Area Agencies on Aging, Town or City Departments of Health, Providers of Non-Medical Home Care as well as the services of Geriatric Care Managers all can provide either guidance, services or both.

Alternatives to an in person visit

Video calls: Schedule regular video calls with your parents to see and talk to them
face-to-face. This way, you can observe their appearance, behavior, and mood, and
ask them how they are feeling.

Phone calls: If video calls are not possible, regular phone calls can also be a great
way to check on your parents. Ask them about their physical health, any symptoms
they might be experiencing, and their emotional wellbeing.
Ask for help from a trusted friend or relative: If you have a close friend or relative
who lives near your parents, you can ask them to check on your parents and report
back to you.

Use technology: There are many new technologies available to help you monitor
your parents’ health, such as wearable health trackers, remote monitoring devices,
and smart home systems.

Hire a caregiver: If your parents require more assistance, you can consider hiring a
caregiver who can provide in-home care and report back to you on their wellbeing.

Just as we have experienced a number of events that we say were “the first time in history, We need to be thankful that this group of people, were the first who came from all corners, stepped forward to protect and save us all, to enable us to do what we have chosen to do today.

Caring for an aging parent is a daunting task. It’s a reversal of roles that should be handled tactfully. How will you want to be treated? Treat them with respect and dignity and not as if they were a child. Remember, they will always be our parents. And they’ll always be the GREATEST GENERATION!


The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw (1998) ISBN 0-375-50202-5 (hardback) ISBN 0-385-33462-1 (paperback), depicts the Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and fought World War II. Brokaw profiles those who came of age during World War II in the United States, stemming from his attendance at the D-Day 40th anniversary celebrations. In the book, Brokaw wrote that “it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”[5]