It is important for caregivers of older loved ones to reach out to others for help. Not only is caring properly for an older loved one alone impossible, it takes a significant toll on one’s physical and mental health as well as financial resources.
Many caregivers are so exhausted they just don’t have the energy to ask others for help. Some caregivers are reluctant to admit that they need help. Still others think it’s going to be too much trouble to teach friends and family how to provide care for their older loved one.
The website www.lotsahelpinghands.org is a wonderful, free resource that makes the process of asking others for help easier. The caregiver can set up a web page that explains the older adult’s circumstances (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease or cancer diagnosis). Then the caregiver will list what types of help are needed. This can include all types of activities, such as something that is needed regularly or even one-time favors. The following are examples of possible postings that caregivers can make:
- Grocery shopping for us once a week
- Taking Dad to a medical appointment next Tuesday at 10 a.m.
- Bringing dinner for Mom once per month when my teens have baseball practice
- Contributing money toward Dad’s prescription co-pays
- Spending an hour with Mom once per month so I can exercise
- Research potential side effects of Dad’s new medication
This system allows the caregiver to invite family, friends and neighbors via e-mail to participate. The beauty of this program is that messages about what is going on with the older loved one are disseminated to everyone at once so the caregiver’s needs are immediately known to the entire network of loved ones. Family and friends can choose to sign up for items that fit their schedule, budget or comfort level. Depending on the type of tasks the caregiver posts, even children and family at a distance can participate.
Though some friends and family might not be comfortable driving Dad to the doctor’s office, they might be very happy to cook an extra meal once each week to bring over. While some needs the caregiver lists may go unassigned, stressed caregivers are significantly likely to reduce their load by using this website.