Small wooden mannequin with its arms outstretched making a "no" pose with its hands.

The Power of Saying "No"

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you simply said “no” to a request? It is one of the hardest things to say for a caregiver. It’s not in our nature.

Reviewed by
Jill Johnson-Young

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you simply said “no” to a request?

Not explained. Not apologized. Not excused yourself.

If you Just. Said. No.

It is one of the hardest things to say for a caregiver. It’s not in our nature. The person who becomes a caregiver in the family is typically the person who says “yes” because they are the helper. Is that you? Since you're reading this my guess is the answer is yes.

Now, how to insert a space between an ask to you and your automatic response? I have some ideas. This is important to you because nearly 40% of caregivers are outlived by the person they are caring for. We are going to turn that statistic around in this program. You will not only get the help from all the coaches in all the areas, you are going to learn some skills and find resources to empower you to stay well, not just survive.

Let’s start with that word. It is a complete sentence. Did you notice that?

“Will you (fill in the blank)?”


Just no.

Now, I am not asking you to consider this with those for whom you are caring. They need you, and need to be able to trust you will be there. But what about the others who expect more of you than you can safely give?

  • The doctor’s office that expects you to transport your loved one on your own or pay for and locate a medical transport?
  • “No, I can’t manage that. Please send home health.”
  • The multiple medications that are sent in at different times requiring multiple trips to a pharmacy.
  • “No, I can’t go pick up another one. Evenings are hard for us. Please send it to the one that delivers.”
  • The other family nearby who want you to come to events that will cause you to hurt your back to get your loved one there, or where going might not be safe for them.
  • “We’d like to attend graduation, but we can’t. We will watch the livestream and you can come and visit after. And bring a slice of cake for us.”
  • The well meaning folks who love your (fill in the blank) and ask you to make one for them.
  • “No, as a caregiver I do not have that time any longer.”


There are so many requests for your time and energy you may not even notice it. Some of you have small children and schools want volunteers. The holidays are coming and those who have never been caregivers expect you to show up as you did before all of this happened. (Or even worse- to host like you did before).

I understand that saying no is hard, especially to those you care about. I also understand how hard your role is currently. I’ve talked to many of you. You really have your hands full. I want you to honor that, and take care of yourself.

If you are still skeptical, ask yourself this.

“If I said yes would anyone question me or make me justify my yes?”

If they are not going to question you saying yes, then your use of the word no deserves equal respect. That goes for those close to you and others far outside that realm.

Let me give you a real-time example. Today the power company came to the door, unannounced. They knocked and rang the bell. They upset the dogs. That upset my mom, who was resting after a night of pacing. She forgot to use her walker in her haste to beat me to the door. Somehow we did not go down, and I got her back to her seat before finally answering the door.

Can you guess what the look on my face was saying? There were two men from the city. They wanted to come in and turn off the power to replace my meter. No warning.

No. Just no. You can make an appointment, but you cannot bang on my door during work hours when my mom is resting. Even if I had time for you now, I have to calm everyone down and get mom back to her nap. They will be back Friday. I will be ready. Mom will be awake and enjoy seeing new people. She will have her walker. The dogs will be put away.

Because I said no.

Wait until next time- we are going to go all in on holidays and caregiving. Or, as I like to call it, how to have others take care of the caregiver during the holidays. Even if in the tiniest of ways.

Photo by Kulbir from Pexels

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