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6 Connections Family Caregivers Can Add to Their Network of Support

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family_caregiver_networkIt’s no secret family caregiving is a demanding job. Often times, family caregivers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, attempting to balance all tasks and needs by themselves. But establishing a support system can set you up for success and alleviate some responsibilities.

Whether you’re caring for a loved one who lives near or far, an informal network of eyes and ears can give you peace of mind when you can’t be there. Your network is a group of people you can turn to for help any time, including family members and friends, as well as neighbors, parishioners and more.

For more information on who you can pull in to look after your loved one, continue reading below.

1. Family Members

If there are family members who can offer support to you and your loved one, then ask for and accept help when offered.  

Ask family members to create a schedule, either by time of day or day of the week, to split up responsibilities. Take turns assisting with basic needs like bathing and grooming, as well as transporting your loved one to and from appointments and other activities.  

Assign certain family members tasks like cooking and cleaning, or simply stopping by your loved one’s house to check in on them from time to time.

Doing so will ensure your loved one is both healthy and happy, which in turn, combats feelings of isolation or loneliness.

2. Friends

Outside of family, consider friends as part of your support network. Rally your loved one’s friends to check in on him or her—whether it’s stopping by their house or giving them a call.

Make a calendar of when you expect your loved one to receive calls or visits, and from whom. If any of your friends are worried about your loved one not answering their phone, they can alert you.

3. Neighbors

Have you met your loved one’s neighbors? If the answer is no, take the time to introduce yourself.

Explain your relationship to your loved one, and write down your full name and number, so they can reach you if need be.

Over time, the neighbors may notice your loved one sticks to a similar routine every day. Perhaps, your loved one gets the mail at the same time, but recently bills and packages are piling up at their front door.  

Neighbors can also serve as a helpful resource due to their proximity. It usually doesn’t take much for them to pick up a few items at the grocery story if they’re already there for themselves, or stop by to shovel a snowy driveway as they finish up their own.

Having them keep an eye on your loved one can give you peace of mind when you can’t be around.

4. Parishioners

Does your loved one belong to a church or other religious institution? Many churches ask volunteers to check in with senior members in the community.

See if there are individuals who would be willing to visit your loved one during weekdays for breakfast or lunch when you may be at work.

Your loved one can look forward to seeing a friendly visitor once a week, which gives them a reason to get dressed for the day.

5. Professional Caregivers and Nurses

Some caregivers rely on in-home healthcare if their loved one is looking to age in the comfort of their own home. This can be especially helpful if you’re a long-distance caregiver.

In-home healthcare is designed to provide daily assistance to seniors in a setting that’s familiar to them. A professional caregiver or certified nursing assistant will help your loved one with daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning, as well as bathing, dressing and grooming.  

While most in-home healthcare services are non-medical, a registered nurse or physician may administer medical assistance depending on the needs of your loved one.  

Whether they stop in daily or weekly, a professional caregiver or nurse can be a critical member to add to your support network.

6. Technologies

Outside of people, technology is a powerful tool for keeping an eye on aging loved one. An emergency response system, like a push-button, can alert you if your loved one falls, summoning immediate help.

Sensors worn on the body can automatically keep track of vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure. Other sensors include devices placed on beds or refrigerators that can determine if and when a person is sleeping and eating.  

Some devices dispense medications at predetermined times and give reminders to your loved one to take prescriptions.  

There are also webcams to increase your loved one’s sense of security if living alone.  

Get Access to Even More Family Caregiver Resources

Caregiving is a 24/7 job. Despite the fulfillment it brings, it can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. That’s why we created our monthly newsletter Caregiver Conversations to help you navigate each stage of your journey with ease. When you subscribe, you’ll receive monthly emails across an entire year of your caregiver experience with resources across topics like senior care plans, self-care tips and more.

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Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.

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