These are just some of the many responses we received
from our Editorial of 08/26/09 -
A Caregiver in
Meetup.com sounds perfect for this woman and her husband. She can find groups right
in her town with people who are probably in the same exact situation she’s in. She can
join a group, talk with the people for a while and then, when she decides she wants
to, she can “meet up” with them. If they are in the same situation she’s in there’s a
good chance they may be able to provide transportation for her or at the very least
My grandmother belongs to the local JCC and doesn’t drive,
like many of the older members there, so they offer a free shuttle service. Many cities
and towns are now offering free transportation also, to and from specific places.
She could probably contact her local government to find out if her city has this service.
As for help around the house, maybe if there are any children in their neighborhood they could enlist their help for
mowing the lawn for a small fee. Most kids will jump at the opportunity to make a few dollars, as long as their parents
are okay with it. Perhaps an adult neighbor could be persuaded to help them with other things around the house too,
like repairs and shoveling.
Although you do not belong to
an organized religion, most churches have some sort
of outreach ministry for the homebound and their
caregivers. Volunteers in those organizations will
be glad to provide a few hours of respite care,
conversation, and friendship at least a few hours
each week. They provide these services
regardless of your religious affiliations or lack
thereof. Caregivers can enjoy a few hours of
responsibility-free to rest and recharge! Call
some nearby churches and see what they can do for
your! Good luck and God bless you!
The only option that I can
think of is to either hire a home health agency for
a day or a week or have her husband go to an
assisted living or a nursing home for a week of
respite. As for herself, her family only lives 3
hours away - they can certainly take her somewhere
for a week or a few days.
I can certainly understand your predicament. I care
for my dad who had a massive stroke 3 1/2 yrs ago. I
have no family help other than my husband. I
took dad to a wellness center that had a stroke
exercise class and we made friends there. They were
a wealth of info for us & provided friendship for
dad and me as well. You might see if something like
that exists in your area. Also, I have a gal
who helps me out frequently who works full time at a
nursing home from 2-10pm--so most mornings she's
available--try finding someone maybe like that (my
neighbor referred me to my helper).
Have you been in the military? Lots of things are
available thru the VA. Have you contacted your Area
Agency on Aging...they know of tons of
programs/resources that you very well might qualify
for--check them out. Finally see if any
churches in the area have a caregiver support group
(some do & that would help you also). Everyone needs
breaks...and it takes some work to figure out how to
get them, but very necessary to your well-being!!
Best of Luck!
I can't offer advice or
help, but I wanted you to know I have some idea of
your situation. I understand the loneliness
you feel. Maybe some anger too (why does this
have to be so hard). Maybe I am just
projecting cause those are often my feelings.
Maybe it seems kind of underhanded to join a group
just to get some help, but at first your goal can to
be just to connect with other people. Also if
the first group isn't welcoming, try another.
It may not be you, but the group.
I have provided an assortment of care services for
my father for the last 26 years since our homes were
combined into one.
In 26 years, I've repeatedly learned that it's very
important to belong to a group, club or organization
for mental and physical diversion and enjoyment of
Senior clubs and centers are the best focal points
in a community for providing information,
socialization and activities for adults throughout
this country. Many of these clubs and centers
for adults have been built and created by the adults
that use them.
I have found the support services needed for
myself and my father either at the center or a
referral to the resource required at their center.
We have attended events together and separately.
Traveled many days trips with small and large
groups. Volunteered for services such as Meals on
wheels, Dial a ride and board committee meetings. If
the center didn't have the resource we needed, when
it was found, it was shared and added to the
resource book in the library.
I'm not a member of the club in my neighborhood, I'm
not old enough to join the membership. For 20 years
I have volunteered and supported senior centers to
assist them in being focal points for the community.
My father can no longer attend their programs
because of his health limitations, but I'm able to
care for him at home because of the resources and
support found at a senior center.
Please let your readers know, if the adult or senior
center in your local community doesn't have the
programs and activities you would like it to have on
a regular basis, get involved and create it.
Clubs and centers love volunteers. Volunteers
have scheduled their time to serve a diverse
population of adults and built community rooms,
computer rooms, craft rooms, sport clubs, travel
itineraries and resource books and libraries for all
of us to benefit. These centers allow many older
adults to live in their homes longer by providing
meals, transportation, and socialization, along with
the volunteers that deliver them.
I’m an Elder in our church
in Ukiah. If we received a call from someone like
yourselves we’d respond in a positive way to try to
meet your needs for assistance. You wouldn’t have to
be a member of our church. Part of being a Christian
is to be of service to others.
If I were a member of the local service groups such
as Lions or Rotary, and you let us know your need,
we’d probably try to help you. This is so because
they are service oriented.
Bottom line, if I were in your shoes, I’d ask for
help. This is something I learned many years ago and
Some people are reluctant to ask for help as they
think they’d be a burden to others, yet when asked
if they’d help another they readily say yes I’d
help. What’s good for the goose is good for the
Finally, perhaps you have the financial resources to
pay for caregivers.
This is the most difficult
issue to face caregivers. How do we develop our
caregiver support network when we aren't connected
solidly with the outside community? My first
suggestion is to sit down and make a list of people
you know who might be able to help. Think
creatively: neighbors, friends from work (yours and
his), friends from the Rehab facility, etc. Anyone
who ever said "do you need help?" goes on the list!
The idea is to create your "family of choice" since
your family of origin is not available on a daily
basis. Next, create a list of things that need to be
done, including social activities. Yard work or
laundry, or a date for a concert all go on the list
if that is what you need help with. Then you start
the hard part: asking for help. I refuse to be
pessimistic about this. I believe that people are
ready and willing to help. Sometimes, they just need
to be asked. So ask with a positive attitude. You
will get a sense of who will help and who can't
(note: can't, not won't!). Then you start matching
tasks with people. Those who do help you will
probably know others who can help so ask for
recommendations for a handy-man they might use, etc.
Be sure to send thank-you notes to anyone who
helps you and your husband. That keeps people
wanting to help! This is not an easy task, as you
already know. Sometimes the hardest part is
convincing yourself that people would want to
help... Another source of support is the local Area
Agency on Aging. Although you don't say your ages,
call them and ask for suggestions on resources for
caregiver support. You might find out about
something you didn't know existed before.
Jane Henderson, L.C.S.W.
As I read and print your newsletter every week
for our MS support group, this one struck a personal
cord. As you know, a lot of
people with MS look like nothing is wrong with them
but the symptoms, or "souvenirs" as your writer
states are hidden from the public, known only to you
and your spouse.
A support group is a way of airing out concerns and
asking for help, however, as co-leaders of our 17
couples strong group, I can tell you most are
reluctant to share or ask for help.
Like your writer, we have no family and most of our
neighbors are older than we are, so it is the
community you reach out to. To
your writer I would suggest contacting the local
colleges and churches as they have a lot of
volunteer programs for people who will come out and
do chores for you, take you to the store, or just
visit. Most communities have resources
such as Senior Centers that someone can pick you up
and play games at their center, or take your spouse
out and give you a rest.
Those are a few thoughts that came to my mind as I
read your current e-newsletter.
I am constantly researching for others who have
needs different than mine. We also put
together a Resource Binder to help everyone in our
group know what is available, whether on the
Internet or publications.
Thank you, Gary for keeping us all informed,
patients and caregivers.