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Building a Support Team

Caregiving is often a full-time job. And you may be doing it along with your paid job and other family responsibilities.  You may feel there’s no one who can help you.  Most caregivers feel this way, and sometimes it’s true, but often there are other people who can help, but have never been asked.  If you’re going to be a caregiver for a long period of time, you need to create a support team to help you provide care.

There are be many small things that can be done by someone else that will enable you to use your limited time most effectively.  Somethings can only be done by you, but other people can help with some tasks.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is to be the “captain” of the team.  As Gary Barg of Caregiver Media often says, “You are the CEO of your caregiver team.”  You don’t need to do everything, but you are responsible for getting it done.

How do you create a caregiver team? Start by making a list of everyone who might be willing to help you. Include everyone who interacts with the person for whom you provide care; include all your relatives, friends, neighbors, church members, club members, paid providers of services such as transportation services, shoppers, companions, homemakers.  Identify volunteer organizations that have caregiver services.  Your list will be very long once you begin to put it down on paper.  After you’ve generated a long list of possible people and places, go over the list and ask yourself, about everyone on the list, what each could do.  There will be people who:

  • can take your relative to a medical appointment occasionally, if asked far enough in advance.
  • have a lot of free time and could take your relative for a daily treatment.
  • could stop by the pharmacy once a month and pick up medication.
  • who would call  weekly to help prevent your relative from being lonely.
  • would be willing to come and sit with your relative while you run errands.

Utilize services to accomplish what you previously did in-person. Use home-delivered groceries.  Shop online from the comfort of your home while your sitting with a relative.  Make sure you use the people on your list to provide a respite break for yourself.  Have someone stop in once a week so you can get your nails done or just go to a park and read a book for 2 hours. 

If you create a list and organize a plan for all the things that need to be done each month, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how many things other people can do, that frees up your schedule.  The bigger the list of people you generate, the lesser the burden on any one person.  It only requires planning and asking for help.  You’re not the only one who can provide the care, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never get any relief.