Must Know Resources and Tools for Caregivers
Long term caregiving is no easy task. In fact, studies show that caregivers are much more likely than non-caregivers to suffer from health problems, such as stress overload, depression, and anxiety. It is common for caregivers to feel burned out and/or have compassion fatigue, among other feelings and strains, such as feeling unappreciated, lacking time for self-care, financial stress, etc.
There are many resources, tools, and technologies available for caregivers that you may not know about that can alleviate some of the caregiving stresses and promote self-care. That is why we have gathered a list of great tools and resources that can help you make caregiving more manageable.
Planning and Coordination Tools
Reaching out to friends and family who can help with some of the tasks and/or provide emotional support is the best place to start to incorporate a plan for self-care during caregiving. Coordinating this help is sometimes difficult and could add to the caregiver tasks. However, there are several planning tools available that can make communication and coordination of one’s support network much easier. For example:
Rallyhood is a group site with all the social sharing, scheduling, and productivity tools in one place. Whether you are a team, a class, a club, or friends helping friends, a rally is designed to make organizing your groups easier.
CareZone is a comprehensive app for managing overall caregiving duties, including coordination of friends and family, health care record keeping and scheduling with a shareable calendar.
At CaringBridge you can create a site for yourself or the person you're caring for and invite family and friends to join. It's intended for a larger group of family and friends to stay updated, coordinate caregiving help and post notes of support.
LotsaHelpingHands is best for creating a connected community with family and friends where you can post news and coordinate assistance for your loved one through a shared calendar.
LivPact works with an advanced artificial intelligence care companion to help you create a care plan, keep the whole care team up to date, find the support you need, and organize and prepare for the future directly from your phone, tablet, computer and/or voice-enabled assistants.
CaregivingVillage is a caregiving App with everything you need to coordinate activities and improve communication
Services to Leverage Your Time
On average, caregivers spend 13 days a month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication. However, most of these tasks can be delegated giving the caregiver more time to use on tasks that cannot be delegated and/or more time to care for themselves. There are a diverse set of companies that can help you take care of individual services, but if you are looking for a centralized place where not only you can schedule those tasks, but also where family and friends can help pay for them, learn more about our platform: KikuPal. The help KikuPal provides includes the delegation of day-to-day tasks such as house cleaning, lawn care, meal delivery, Lyft rides, and concierge services, allowing people to contribute points towards these services.
Hire Care Help
Have you considered getting help from an online care coordinator? There are services online such as Wellthy, that can help you plan and prioritize steps regarding legal, financial, housing, medical, in-home, and social/mental needs for both the caregiver and caree.
Below are a few ideas to help you practice self-care without leaving the house.
Practice mindfulness and meditation. A great app for this is Headspace.
Write a journal, or letters/notes to a friend or yourself.
Get a handheld massager, such as the Tapping Pro.
Getting a restful night sleep is very important. Here is a list of several apps that can help you track your sleep patterns and improve your sleep time.
FaceTime or call a friend or family member.
Take a bubble bath, complete with candles and calming music.
Start a new hobbie, such as sewing, quilting, or crocheting.
Taking a break (not just a vacation), each day or “shift”, even if it’s only for a short time, is vital for necessary self-care. You may consider going for a walk or incorporating a walk into your caregiving routine with the person being cared for. Walks aren’t just good exercise, but they can enhance mood and the ability to better handle stress. Sometimes by just changing scenery, you can greatly change your mood. If you are looking for other ideas and materials to help you practice self-care, these books by Healthy Caregiving provide a wealth of knowledge and insights to get you started.
Add Fun to Caregiving
Participate in fun activities such as board games, other sit-down games, or maybe even outdoor activities, especially if the person being cared for is able to - lighthearted pleasure should be achieved each day. Not only will you feel less stressed, but so will the person being cared for. Caregiving is a serious job, but incorporating fun activities into the caregiving routine is a great way to lighten the mood for both you and the person being cared for. Here is a list of 5 great games to play to get you started. For more ideas, here is a list of the 80 Top Games for Seniors and the Elderly.
Join Caregiver Networks
You are not alone! Every year about 43.5 million caregivers in America have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. Joining networks of caregivers may give you the extra support and guidance to help through the challenges. Below are a few sites and blogs that you can look at. This list is not comprehensive, but should hopefully give you an idea of the vast number of groups available to you.
The caregiver’s voice is a site with the mission to share hope and strength to professionals and caregivers for people with dementia through knowledge, support, and humor.
The caregiver’s space is a judgement-free community where you can share and receive real advice from other caregivers.
Transition aging parents is a blog providing insight and information to adult children of aging parents so they may "thrive and find joy" in every stage of life.
Caregiving is a web based community for caregivers to come together and support one another. Support comes through blogs, community posts, courses, podcasts and more.
EldercareABC is a site providing information as well as a place to discover a group of people who can support you and/or who you can support in your own way.
CaregiverWarrior is a blog offering advice, helpful tips, and strategies based on the experience, strength, and hope of a caregiver.
Through these sites, you may also join conferences, events, and other community groups. For example, the Caregiving Regional Conference will be held in Wimberley, Texas on April 5-7, 2019. The conference’s theme is “Our Amazing Difference”, which will focus on the difference we make in our own lives, the lives of the caree, and in our communities when we take care of ourselves and find what works. The conference will address issues and scenarios of caregiving in the workplace as well as detailed workshops for which hours can be earned for resource development. To find out more about the conference, click here.
There are also a ton of tech tools that can help you manage your tasks and keep the person you care for safe. Below are some examples of tools available to you that will give you an idea of what is available. If there is something specific you are looking for, it is quite possible you can find it.
Sagely are large, clear detachable compartments for prescription medications. Pill loading is now easier and more accurate. The material is durable and BPA-free. The Sagely SMART Weekly Pill Organizer is designed to take the worry out of medication management.
Touch 'N Talk is a long range portable pendant communicator. The care recipient simply touches the button and talks when assistance is needed.
Arlo provides a remote video monitoring system.
Alarm.com offers technology that powers the connected home and makes life smarter, safer, and more efficient. It is an affordable option for ensuring a care recipient’s safety, security, and comfort.
GreatCall provides innovative technology that helps seniors live independently and enjoy a better quality of life. Through their solutions, seniors can get the help they need in unsafe or uncertain situations.
SmartCaregiver offers several fall prevention and anti-wandering alarms and systems.
GPSSmartSole is a smartphone hidden and sealed in a trim-able shoe insole. It uses GPS and cellular technology to locate the person wearing it.
Other Helpful Resources
There are lot of other organizations and agencies that are happy to help you navigate your specific situation and provide resources at a lower cost. A great list of these agencies can be found here. Additionally, you can check out our list of services in the Central Austin area.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful. Do you have any other resources and tools you use? If so, please share them by commenting below.