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Are You a Caretaker?

By February 26, 2008 - 3:33pm
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Are you currently taking care of a loved one who has a chronic illness? Share your experience with us!

What are the best ways to help a loved one?

Here are some ways that patients and their families can help elicit the type of social support they want from others:

1. Banish secrets. Families often want to protect each other from bad news, but keeping secrets in itself is stressful, and prohibits others from joining in the common mission of helping.

2. Include your children. Taking age into account, if children sense they are being excluded, they may think they've done something wrong. Reduce their anxiety and guilt by explaining to them (again, age appropriately) and coming up with some ways they can help.

3. Be selective. Under the strains of a serious illness, some relationships strengthen, while others become weaker. Save your energy and disengage from social obligations.

4. Tell others clearly how they can help. Don't be shy about asking for help; friends and family usually want to help and don't know how. Bringing a meal over once a month. Calling other family members with updated information. Driving patient to medical appointment. Less glamorous jobs like walking the dog, doing the laundry. Let others know how to take the burden of the day-to-day activities.

* Article "How to Help a Friend or Loved One" from Mind Body Medicine, Social Support chapter by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

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Not that we should depend on volunteers too much but I'd just like to add that there are dozens of volunteer agencies (and even more Churches) that do respite care free of charge in order to give caregivers a break. You can contact several of then and often can get at least one or two to come out every week for a much needed break and it is all free.

Here are some great contacts


www.voa.org (Volunteers of America)


February 27, 2008 - 3:22pm

In addition to turning to family and friends for support -- outside services may be of some assistance as well. The National Adult Day Services Association provides a searchable database of organizations providing adult services daycare. http://www.nadsa.org/find_members/default.asp

Most of the services are in the area of $60 or $70 a day and usually must be paid out of pocket. In addition to giving caregivers a little time to themselves, these centers provide the patient with socialization and activities that provide the mental and physical stimulation they may not get while staying at home.

February 27, 2008 - 9:08am
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