Caregivers know the importance of emotional support from others to help overcome the challenges and struggles we face caring for our senior loved ones.
In our work life, we understand the importance of networking. We find mentors and peers who can guide us through our careers. Usually there is someone or more than one someone who gives us a helping hand, are on the other end of the phone when we have a question, help us meet a deadline and can even help us get a promotion through their support and encouragement.
In our caregiver life we also need a network. Our role as family caregiver is often more demanding, especially emotionally, than we find our work life. Certainly a network for this part of our life is at least as important.
Do you have a network yet for the caregiver part of your life yet?
Steps to Build a Strong and Effective Caregiver Network
- Get involved in social media support arenas to meet new people for your network. There are many outlets from which to choose depending on your needs and your time availability. Twitter chats such as #carechat, #eldercarechat, #alzchat and many others are great outlets to learn more about a specific disease and get emotional support from others who are going through the same thing you are. There are also facebook chats where you can interact with people walking in your shoes. These platforms (and other social media) are great ways to connect so you don’t feel isolated and grow your network.
- Online support help and message boards on a variety of websites that deal specifically with caregivers of seniors are great sources of information to help you cope. They can help strengthen your network of resources available.
- Support groups are available in most communities for specific diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. This is a good way to meet face to face with people near you who can offer you knowledge, tips, advice and personal support. They will join your network and you can join theirs. Meeting local people can also give you a sense of community. Going out to a support group nearby will also give you much needed respite. Many have opportunities for substitute care providers who can allow you to attend.
- Family members who can’t perhaps help you with day to day tasks can be enlisted for emotional or financial support for you as a caregiver of their loved one. Ask them when you need something or just a little time away. They should definitely be in your network and on your side helping you be successful! After all, you are caring for their senior loved one.
- Friends (not only yours but those of your senior loved one) are often waiting to hear your call for help and should be included on your network list. Most people don’t want to “burden” you or intrude on your precious time but will willingly come to your aid when called.
- Church organizations often have assistance for caregivers especially when that person is homebound. Reach out if needed-network with them.
- Pastors, priests, or chaplains can help by offering a shoulder to lighten your burden. Sometimes a good heartfelt chat with someone who will not “spread your business” can give you strength to go on. A great part of the network!
- Your spouse or partner is an important person to keep in your network. Oftentimes we get so busy with details we forget to keep our closest friend in the loop with what we need. We expect them to just ‘know’ what we need but how can they unless we tell them? Tell them today.
- Your children, especially if they are teens or adults should be included in your network. They may be able to pick up some of the load in your house as you care for their grandparents’ house every day.
- Healthcare professionals who treat your senior loved one should be thought of as part of your network. They offer not only knowledge about the health, care and treatment of your senior but also emotional support for your efforts and struggles.
There are likely more people that you can include on this list. Remember networking is a two way street. You have to initiate the communication when you need help. You also have to be there for others in your network when they need you.
Don’t forget to thank those in your network from time to time to keep your network strong.
Together we can achieve great things — more than any of us can do alone!
We would love to hear about YOUR caregiver network. Please leave us a comment or call the Senior Care Corner message line at 864-735-0080.