You are a caregiver because you care. So minimize the crazy run-around for -- and maximize the quality time with -- your loved one. These caregiving resources can help. Click on the header of each section to be taken directly to the website of the featured organization.
AARP Caregiving Resource Center
"Caregivers don't have a lot of time to find resources," says Amy Goyer, AARP's Family Expert. "It's a time-crunch issue." Ain't it the truth! That's why the good folks at AARP have created a comprehensive place for caregivers to find support, guidance, and practical tools, for help with day-to-day caregiving. These resources include video blogs, online support groups, phone calls with experts, web chats, webinars, a long-term-care calculator and a caregiving glossary. In addition, their Caregiving Essentials section offers advice and support for caregivers, on any topic regarding the care process -- be it getting started, managing end-of-life care, or self-caring for the caregiver.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Family Caregiver Alliance offers programs at national, state and local levels in the interest of supporting and sustaining caregivers. Along with sponsoring the Family Care Navigator -- a state-by-state guide helping families locate support groups, programs and resources -- the FCA offers a well-organized website full of information about public policy, research and caregiving advice. In case you do not find what you need on the FCA website, their phone line is open from 9:00 a.m. -- 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday -- providing advice to caregivers and care recipients alike. "FCA is not one-size-fits-all," emphasizes FCA policy specialist Tyler Stanley. "We take the time to listen to each caller's individual story and help find the resources they need."
Caregiver Action Network
Caregiver Action Network (CAN), formerly known as the National Family Caregivers Association, helps caregivers find resources matching their particular needs -- be it caregiving from a distance, caregiving while still in the workforce, caregiving over the course of many years, or just beginning the caregiving journey. The organization boasts a network of volunteers who have been caregivers themselves, with many coming from nursing and social work professions. CAN membership is free, and members are matched with volunteers. "This allows you to be put in contact with someone who has a similar experience in the caregiver realm," says CEO John Schall, adding that the volunteer match "has professional and expert advice and can point you in the direction of resources you may not have known existed."
National Alliance for Caregiving
The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) is a non-profit coalition of service organizations, disease-specific organizations, government agencies, corporations, professional associations and grassroots organizations. Through research and policy analysis, the alliance works to raise awareness of and concern about family caregiving issues. When you need statistics to support your caregiving needs in the workplace or at the legislative level, NAC is the go-to place for quality data.
American Association of Caregiving Youth
Over 1.4 million youth, ages 8-18, are caring for a loved one in America today. Caregivers often feel isolated, and this sense is only exacerbated among young caregivers, whose peers typically cannot relate. The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) raises awareness of the special needs facing young caregivers, and the organization offers direct services to this target demographic. Having been a young caregiver myself, this organization feels especially dear to my heart.
Cooperative Extension System - known as eXtensions -- is an online learning forum with collaborators from the 75 land-grant universities in the US. eXtensions provides a clearinghouse of articles from academic leaders, with each article reflecting the specialty of that contributor. Family caregiving articles - which are research-based, impartial, and in-depth -- feature relevant information about housing, nutrition, disaster preparedness, military families and grandparents raising grandchildren.
American Society on Aging
The American Society on Aging (ASA) primarily is geared toward professionals seeking to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families. It does, however, offer a Family Caregiver Support Series webinar, free of charge. Webinar topics range from "Managing the Stress of a Family Caregiver" to "Helping Seniors with Loss of Independence" to "Navigating the Senior Care Maze." This resource is especially useful for those caring for an aging family member.
eCaring provides a home-care management system that tracks information such as medication intake, vital signs, eating and sleeping patterns, and mental and physical state. This information allows a caregiver to set customized alerts and respond quickly in situations requiring immediate attention -- thus keeping small problems in the home from becoming big ones in the hospital. By improving communication between family caregivers and health care providers, eCaring reduces emergency room and hospital visits and other costly, intrusive services -- enabling seniors and those with chronic illness to live at home longer and at a lower cost.
APA Family Caregiver Briefcase
Sponsored by the American Psychological Association, The Family Caregiver Briefcase has the goal of supporting the mental health of caregivers. To this end, the project offers general information and resources for psychologists working with caregivers, for caregivers themselves and for general health professionals. The Briefcase includes an overview of key issues in family caregiver research, as well as information about psychologists who have made important contributions to the family-caregiving field.
CancerHawk was born out of the frustration that Robyn Stoller felt during the cancer journey she shared with her late husband. It was no easy task, she discovered, to find the right assistance at the right time, to overcome key challenges. Throughout the years, however, Stoller did find excellent resources, and she now shares this information with others on the cancer journey. Her website contains a wealth of information related to diverse aspects of cancer and its treatment.
Caregiving.com features weekly words of comfort, self-care plans, and live chats, as well as a Community Caregiving Journal, free webinars, online support groups, and the blog posts of family caregivers. It also holds online events -- such as art projects, fitness challenges and parties -- that seek to entertain and encourage caregivers, as well as to provide an escape from caregiving duties.
Guiding caregivers on how to remain healthy and strong throughout the caregiving journey, CaregivingCafe is an online resource featuring articles, blog posts and interactive forums. The thrust of this resource is helping caregivers learn to provide compassionate and effective care to loved ones, without burning themselves out. To this end, the "café" focuses on topics such as stress management tips and healthy lifestyle habits for caregivers.
Caregiver Survival Network
The Caregiver's Survival Network (CSN) is a free social network, dedicated solely to the welfare of caregivers -- which CSN refers to as "The Invisible Patients." CSN is an online community, through which caregivers can find resources, share experiences, develop personal networks, and learn ways to minimize and cope with caregiver stress. Most significantly, CSN provides a forum for airing the spectrum of feelings arising from the caregiving experience - thus offering a coveted slice of "me" time to caregivers themselves.
After 20 years of caregiving for his wife with cancer, Rob Harris decided to share with others the wisdom he had gained over the years. His book, We're In this Together, reveals his own story and offers numerous caregiving tips. His website additionally features hand-picked caregiver resources and a multimedia page with more tips for the caregiving journey. The mission of RobCares is to facilitate a community of caregivers, care recipients, and medical professionals, and to provide words of encouragement for all.
CareSimply (caresimply.com) is an online tool for finding and hiring in-home caregivers. Families can browse CareSimply's directory of pre-screened, professional caregivers or post a job to be matched with the right caregiver. CareSimply handles all the insurance, tax calculations, and background checks, while putting families and caregivers directly in touch. CareSimply currently provides service in California and Arizona and is in the process of expanding to additional regions.