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The Power of Community Support for Caregivers
When juggling a personal life on top of the role of senior care, it’s hard to find time to investigate and become involved with outside resources, such as community support groups and caregiver councils. However, in reality, the power of these groups far exceeds the required time investment by providing valuable backup support and caregiver information.
What is a community support group?
The term community support group can be defined in a variety of ways, each of which addresses a different facet or facets of caregiver support. Most people are familiar with the idea of a support group defined as a small group of people with a common experience who get together once or twice per week to offer moral and emotional support. However, caregiver community support groups can be expanded to include general social, medical, and commercial services available to assist the caregiver and/or loved one needing care, or even just a general council on aging.
One of the most prominent and important benefits of community support groups focused on caring for elderly parents is the ability to organize a team of assistants to take on some of the home care services for seniors. As children caring for elderly parents increasingly become involved in the medical decisions for a loved one, the medical support system begins to kick in. The caregiver is advised on available services, such as home medical monitoring, to help them cope with day-to-day independent living activities such as bathing, eating, or giving injections.
The medical system may also recommend social services, such as a local support group. By acknowledging the role of caregiver, individuals may be able to keep their jobs and begin to organize a team of friends, relatives, volunteers, and other elder care resources, to help manage the various needs of the loved one. Online organizations such as Lotsa Helping Hands exist to help connect caregivers with the volunteers they need.
Full time supervision isn’t always needed. Caregivers include those who ensure an elderly person is properly cared for, even when the senior is living independently. Commercial elderly care products, such as medical apps for cell phones and other devices, can be on hand when others can’t or when others are not desired. These systems assist with medication reminders, quick access to emergency services, response lines, and even organizational tools to help coordinate team efforts.
For many people caring for aging parents, quick access to support regarding highly individualized situations is frustrating and difficult to find. The emergency situation when instant medical advice is needed can be filled through medical and/or commercial services, many of which include help lines staffed by nurse practitioners and emergency access to relevant physicians.
It can still be frustrating, however, trying to get answers that must take into consideration the personal history of the patient or the caregiver. Caregivers often spend excessive time on the phone trying to explain their story. A call to a fellow member of a support group who already knows the story from weekly meetings can be helpful in those situations. Caregivers who prefer online interaction can find similar support groups with members from around the world, improving the chances of finding a friend when one is most needed.
Caregiver confidence and personal health
A recent study by the AARP suggests that caregivers, whether full-time or part-time, can actually enjoy better overall health than their non-caregiver counterparts, but only when there is sufficient community support. In addition to the confidence gained through being well-informed and having a community of people ready to support where needed, the power of community support gives the caregiver the capability of paying better attention to the elderly person’s physical fitness, financial health, and emotional well-being.