By Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership
Connecting with other caregivers can reduce stress and result in a healthier, more effective caregiver, and social media plays an important role in informing and connecting caregivers. Caregiver stress is common and can lead to serious health problems. However, actively seeking help, information, and support can reduce stress and loneliness.
Sometimes caregivers just need someone to talk to, and it can be difficult to physically attend support groups. Fortunately, support for caregivers can be found online 24 hours a day. Research shows people who take an active, problem-solving approach to caregiving issues are less likely to feel stressed than those who react by worrying or feeling helpless, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.
Here are four ways men and women can connect to others in the caregiver community:
Facebook is not only for connecting with an existing network of friends and family, but it can help caregivers learn from others who aren’t in their circle of friends. For example, by “liking” an organization’s page or adding caregiving to one’s list of interests, caregivers can see news and comments from others in similar situations.
Twitter is a great alternative for those who aren’t as comfortable discussing family caregiver topics where people they know can read them. Twitter users can remain anonymous by creating their own names and can follow caregiving experts with a simple click. Topics are easy to search; by typing a word or words in the search bar, a user can see posts by anyone who has added that hash tag to a post.
The photo-sharing site Pinterest — which lets users browse pin boards, then “like,” comment on or pin them to their own boards — has become a popular way to share humor, inspiration and information. Caregivers can create and browse boards on products and resources, home safety tips, ideas for taking care of themselves and more.
For users who aren’t interested in joining social networks and setting up profiles, there are blogs and forums dedicated to caregiver education and support.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 78 percent of caregivers in 2009 reported seeking more help or information about at least one of 14 specific topics related to caregiving. The areas with the greatest need for more information include keeping a loved one safe at home, managing their own emotional/physical stress, easy activities they can do with care recipients, and finding time for themselves. Of the sources used for caregiving information, a health or caregiving provider, the Internet, and family, friends and other caregivers were the most mentioned.
(this article originally appeared on the Caregiver Partnership blog.)
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.