Chicago Health | Homepage
Pitching in when caregivers need help

Pitching in when caregivers need help

By Meghan Streit, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report

When you’re caring for a sick spouse or parent, it can be difficult to find time to enjoy hobbies, exercise or even schedule routine appointments such as dental checkups. As a result, caregivers sometimes suffer from depression, increased anxiety and deteriorating health.

Diane Everett figured out a way to free up her time and reduce her stress. Her husband, Tom, was diagnosed in 2007 with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A few years ago, Everett, 61, who lives in Fredonia, N.Y., started using Lotsa Helping Hands to streamline her communication with family and friends and to tap into her social network for help.

Caregivers can use Lotsa Helping Hands to create personalized websites where they can post updates about a loved one’s medical condition and request assistance with tasks such as driving to medical appointments or mowing the lawn.

“Sometimes I will say, ‘I need a couple of meals this week, and Tom doesn’t eat onions and he’s having trouble chewing red meat,'” Everett says.

When Everett posts a request for help, all of the members of her Lotsa Helping Hands community receive an e-mail alert. Community members must be specifically invited by the caregiver, to ensure users’ privacy. If Everett’s family and friends can help with a specific task, they simply click a link to sign up. That lets the other community members know the request is fulfilled.

“Now, I don’t have to make a million phone calls or leave messages,” Everett says. “It’s the most amazing time saver.”

Lotsa Helping Hands is one of several sites that help caregivers coordinate care. Brooks Kenny, the site’s executive vice-president, says 76,000 “caring communities” of family and friends lend help to caregivers. One reason the site is catching on, Kenny says, is that it enables caregivers to turn vague offers of help into practical, tangible assistance. When a well-meaning friend offers to help, most caregivers are reluctant to follow up. But a caregiver who uses Lotsa Helping Hands can refer friends and relatives to her Web site.

Kenny says the most common requests are for meal drop-off and transportation. Caregivers might ask for someone to walk the dog or shovel snow. Or the caregiver could ask for people to take turns visiting with the person who is ill so that the caregiver can attend her book club or hit the gym.

“The caregivers we work with say, ‘I had no idea so many people cared,’ or ‘I had no idea it wouldn’t feel funny to have someone drop off a meal,’ ” Kenny says.

Offering help — and comfort

CareFlash is similar to Lotsa Helping Hands. Founder Jay Drayer created the site in 2006 after his own caregiving experience. In addition to a calendar function where caregivers can ask for help, CareFlash includes a “social storytelling” module where family, friends and the ill person can upload photos and record audio stories in their own voices.

Drayer says that it can be comforting for the sick person to listen to the stories, and the family can keep the module when the person dies. It’s also a way to preserve family history.

“It’s a collaborative way to tell the story of someone’s life,” Drayer says.

CaringBridge is another popular site for caregivers. It was launched in 1997 primarily as a tool for people to update friends and family about a loved one’s illness or recovery. In 2012, CaringBridge added SupportPlanner, where caregivers can request assistance with chores.

Many caregivers use CaringBridge to post medical updates and read well wishes from friends and family members, says Sona Mehring, the website’s founder and chief executive officer. “It’s a great communication tool to let people know what’s going on. Friends can leave messages to show their support as well as sign up for tasks. Being able to connect is very therapeutic for caregivers.”

(c) 2015, KIPLINGER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

Environmental Nutrition By Carrie Dennett, M.P.H., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter Because 70 percent of our bone destiny

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

June 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017
June 4, 2017 June 5, 2017 June 6, 2017 June 7, 2017 June 8, 2017 June 9, 2017 June 10, 2017
June 11, 2017 June 12, 2017 June 13, 2017 June 14, 2017 June 15, 2017 June 16, 2017 June 17, 2017
June 18, 2017 June 19, 2017 June 20, 2017 June 21, 2017 June 22, 2017 June 23, 2017 June 24, 2017
June 25, 2017 June 26, 2017 June 27, 2017 June 28, 2017 June 29, 2017 June 30, 2017 July 1, 2017

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives