bug catching

bug catching (Photo credit: jon.hayes)

As my experiences are mostly with those caring for the elderly, many of the suggestions that follow are given with a bias towards this group. Yet, they can easily be modified to apply to any group.

The February 1, 2012 #eldercarechat focused on ideas on outreach and education for caregivers. With more people entering retirement age the issue of caregivers seems to be an ever-expanding one. Caregivers need to know that it is okay to seek support and where to find the support. The National Alzheimer’s Plan addresses the need for caregiver support for critical needs but not the day-to-day problems. And, it isn’t just those who care for the elderly that need our support. People of ALL ages can require short or long term care for a variety of issues. This is why we ALL need to catch the caregiver support bug.

Here are items to consider in the caregiver support bug.

  1. Be a good neighbor/friend/family member. Observe for needs a person may have been the person needing care or the person providing care. Be aware that sometimes caregiving happens at a distance.
  2. Be aware not everyone shares a need for assistance. For some people, asking for and accepting assistance carries a lot of negative baggage. Whether it is for cultural, social, or personal reasons some people feel it is their duty to provide all or most of the care. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes it is not.
  3. Ask how you can help. Often people are more responsive to questions than to open statements like “Call if I can help.”
  4. Offer specific assistance. Caregivers need time to care for themselves. Consider offering to provide social visits for the person receiving care and the caregiver, bring a meal, pick up something while you are out, assisting them in locating support mechanisms in the community.
  5. When possible have an awareness of support options in your area. Consider organizations like the Area Agency on Aging. Ask your physician for information related to support groups for a particular diagnosis along with support services that might be appropriate for your situation.
  6. Prepare before you or someone you love needs a caregiver. Knowing interests, desires, creating support networks can assist people in receiving and providing care. Discuss honestly the level and amount of care you feel able to provide.

Yes, this Bug needs to be contagious. It needs to be viral! We as a society need to support the spread of this bug on many levels. So, catch the caregiver support bug and pass it along!

I leave you with song by Joseph Dziobek: