Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tools for Your Caregiving Tool Belt – Support for the Caregiver

We’ve added Education and Navigating Care Facilities & In-Home Care to your caregiving tool belt. We’ve also given a few tips on Navigating Government Programs (which is my personal favorite although it is the most exhausting!). After all that work, the caregiver now needs to do a little something for themselves.

The hardest part of finding help for the caregiver is actually convincing the caregiver how important it is to take care of themselves. In my “Caring for the Caregiver” post, I mentioned women caregivers are six times as likely to suffer from depression or anxiety than their non-caregiving counterparts. Let’s try to fix that.

For many conditions and diseases there are websites and online support groups supporting either the person living with the condition or their caregivers. In-person support groups are also available but many caregivers may find that it is too difficult to find care for their loved one while they attend the group meetings. Others may not be comfortable talking about their feelings or problems in a room full of strangers (even if they are in the same boat).

Online support can be a lifesaver for those who feel alone. This allows for a sense of community as well as an opportunity to learn how others solved problems that we may not know how yet to solve.

A few online resources which may help: (
California Caregiver Resource Center (
California Council of the Alzheimer’s Organization (
The Family Caregiver Alliance (
National Family Caregivers Association (
Well Spouse Association (
VA Caregiver Support (

I do not have personal experience with these resources but one I do love and have personal experience with is ( Denise Brown has created an online community for caregivers caring for parents, spouses, children and siblings – even family friends. Denise will be celebrating her 15th anniversary of in August which means she has helped countless number of caregivers and their families through the years.

This site allows caregivers to blog about their experiences which range from venting because their mom just took a turn for the worst or sharing a tender moment with a spouse who, after months of mostly not knowing his wife, has a moment of clarity and recognition. Denise provides educational webinars and blog radio programs as well as fun activities such as a “Solitaire Showdown” for caregivers or their families. is not about making money or selling a product (although Denise has written a few books which have been very helpful to me and others). is completely about strangers from all over the country supporting one another through the struggles of caregiving. People who have never met have cried together when someone loses a spouse or a parent. This group is not judgmental, is completely welcoming of newcomers and is full of information (and the willingness to help others!).

When I first found I was able to get much needed help in dealing with Robert’s incontinence issues. Everyone is very willing to share information about what they have learned through their caregiving experience and many stick around to continue to support and share even after their caregiving duties have ended.

Caregivers need help and need nurturing, too, and I can think of no better place to get it than through So many caregivers owe both our thanks and our sanity to Denise Brown, an angel who has chosen to help others and who has inspired many of us to be the best caregivers we can be.

Please share the resources you use for support in the comment section. What helps keep you balanced while caring for others?

Thank you for reading the “Tool Belt” series – I hope it has provided a little bit of help during your own caregiving experience.

No comments: