HOW TO: Creating a Elder Care Support Network to Reduce Stress

It is important to remember that when caring for an adult parent that you also care for yourself as well.  Any form of elder care can be draining on an emotional, physical and time commitment level.  In order to be able to sustain your generous efforts, you need to seek out and be able to ask for assistance.  You will want a network of people and agencies you can rely on for consistent support, when you need a respite or in the event of an elder care crisis.

As you begin to develop the support team as described below, remember that the key to success lies in the ability to ask for help.  Even if other family members live farther away, still enlist their assistance and together you will come up with ways they can best support you.

Steps for Developing Your Support Network

  1. Make a list of each person who may be available to you such as family, friends, neighbors, members of your community groups and churches. For each person take note of the following:
  2. Phone number for easy reference
  3. What they are available and willing to provide in the form of help
  4. What days and times they can offer to you
    1. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging for respite and other assistance.
    2. Create a list of your regular responsibilities both in the role as caregiver and your personal duties to yourself and your immediate family.  Don’t forget to include activities such as picking up your children from school or practice or helping with other errands.
    3. Next to each task estimate the duration of time (including commute) so that you can provide a realistic time commitment to your network and you do not feel the stress of rushing around.
    4. Begin asking your network in what areas they would be most able to support you.  Because your list is detailed and specific it will be easier to get positive responses for these individual needs.

It really helps in sharing some of the responsibility if you make this list easily accessible to other members of your family so that if need be, they can make phone calls in case a change or crisis should arise.  Remember that just because you took the initiative to create the network system does not mean you have to manage it alone.

Other Resources

In order to help you create, complete and maintain a thorough and organized support system, I have developed easy-to-use worksheets in the workbook of The By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living Workbook.  While the book is written for assisted living, the worksheets are applicable to all levels of care.

photo: BrittneyBush

  • Erin Schmidt

    Great article! Support is so important when caring for a loved one – it really should be a team effort as much as possible. Having an action plan is so crucial. We recently wrote about the significance of planning ahead to provide further insight for families and individuals as they contemplate the future: Thanks again for the great info!

  • Ryan Malone

    Erin, thanks for the article. I'll give it a read.

  • Mary Carpenter RN, GCM

    If you need assistance with this process, you may receive just the help you need by visiting the website of the National Geriatric Care Management site.

  • Matt Johnson

    Ryan, fantastic points. What systems have you seen that help people coordinate their care team? Email lists? Shared calendar? We're always looking for ways to help families stay connected.

    I wrote yesterday about using Facebook private groups to keep people on the same page, but we're still evaluating the benefits.

    I'd love to get your opinion.

  • Ryan Malone

    Matt – Thanks for the post. I prefer email actually, because it is the easiest to use for all parties, people already have email set up on their iPhones and Blackberries, etc. Facebook is also useful since many people are already there. Shared calendaring is still a bit more challenging for people, as I've found it challenging to show everyone how to use Google calendar, for example. It has to be easy.

  • Matt Johnson

    You're exactly right – it has to be easy. And, great picture too. Yep, that about captures the frustration!

    Thanks again for the insight. I've enjoyed reading your blog.

  • Laura Helliwell

    This article highlights something that so many people are facing. We have developed a pill box that uses cellular communications to inform caregivers if their loved ones missed their medications. The caregivers we have worked with greatly appreciate the real-time notifications from the system and say the pill box gives them peace of mind. Laura Helliwell,

  • ryanmalone

    Thanks for the insight, Laura. Medication management is always a scary thing. I'd be interested in doing a product review of the site here if Medminder is. Drop me an email ryan !AT! insideeldecare . COM

  • 3_GregTaylor_7

    May add also that if caring for the elderly member of your family is becoming too hard, you can opt for getting him/her a home, example in senior living communities Charlotte, and a medical expert such as a nurse or a caregiver who knows the appropriate approach to care and and to physically assist. It will help if the old member of your family will find a community where he can have activities and conversation with neighbors with the same age. But we should never forget also that as family members we are the ones ho have the ultimate responsibility on them.

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