Recently, I’ve been having the same conversation with a number of people about their role of caregiver and the toll it’s taking on them and their families. The newest research on the impact of caregiving, while not new, quantifies that those who provide “substantial help” as caregivers are roughly twice as likely to experience physical, financial and emotional difficulties as those who do not. JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb 15
So how can this be reduced? One of the first steps is to recognize that the better organized you are, the easier it will be. There are people willing to help, but they need specific directions in that regard, such as when, where and what type of activity. Helpers can include family, friends, neighbors, church, co-workers, support group members and other people in your community.
While I strongly advocate using the free on-line tool Lotsa Helping Hands to organize, some shy away from this approach because:
a) They think it’s going to be beyond their computer ability (it isn’t and you can get someone to help you with it) and/ or
b) Don’t have the time. This takes less than an hour to start and it will save you considerable time down the road. Again, someone other than you can do this. And/or
c) They don’t want to do anything their charge would be uncomfortable with. The older the person is, the more they may be hesitant about the Internet.
The last item is a common problem among caregivers, who are often so concerned about the needs and wants of their charge they neglect their own. So be clear-Lotsa Helping Hands is primarily for your benefit, as it allows you to share the incredible responsibility that comes with being a caregiver. Read the review from Caregiver Reviews for a better understanding of the site.
Things to consider about setting up a Lotsa Helping Hands or another similar program:
• Co-administer the site with someone.
• Setting up the site and checking it daily is a good task for a family or close friend that may not live near by but wants to help. Pick someone that you work well with.
• There are people that want to help but aren’t on-line. Pair them with someone that is a registered participant and willing to be responsible for entering tasks this individual will be doing and will remind them.
• Be specific about the type of help you need. Use the Jobs Checklist from Sage Minder to get a better idea of what to ask for.
• Keeping volunteers involved can be significantly increased by: keeping them informed and letting them know they are valued and appreciated-a heartfelt thank you goes a long way. Depending on the nature of the person’s situation, a monthly update may be sufficient. For more critical situations, daily might be needed.
Once you have a template of what the day to day needs might be and who is willing to help, be prepared for any and all changes-Volunteers can’t come through, your charge gets sicker and needs to be hospitalized, your immediate family has a crisis, work suddenly becomes more difficult etc. The beautiful of a site like Lotsa Helping Hands is that you can send one e-mail and let people know what’s going on.
Other topics relating that may be of interest to care