Caring for a loved one is a rewarding and fulfilling undertaking. For most of us, it’s a sacred duty, for others it’s an opportunity to bond with family and friends. Even though the intent is noble, caregiving can also be stressful and complex as it involves looking after family members with serious ailments.
In order to take care of loved ones, caregivers handle tasks such as doctor’s appointments, medication, feeding, bathing, changing, exercises, etc. And hence, we often find caregivers overburdened with daily errands, financial responsibilities. and even anxiety. Moreover, caregivers need to gain an in-depth understanding of their loved one’s medical condition so that they are able to look after them.
In this regard, online resources offer them much needed support and guidance. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index patient. caregivers spend 13 hours per month researching about information regarding diseases, care services, tips on managing doctors’ appointments and taking care of financial matters.
To enable you to utilize an online resource to its full extent, we did a little analysis of the resources available to identify the most promising and comprehensive ones that offer guidance pertaining to all aspects of patient care and are based on extensive research in the domain. The ones that topped our list include:
Family Caregiver Alliance:
Family Caregiver Alliance runs the National Center on Caregiving that works to establish support programs for caregivers of family members across the US. Their website provides in-depth resources on caregiving for adult family members suffering from chronic diseases including cognitive ailments like dementia, bi-polar disorder, etc.
It also offers caregivers the option of maintaining a personalized dashboard that they can use to remain updated with resources related to ailments and seek support from care providers from across the country.
Caregiver Action Network:
Caregiver Action Network is an extensive online resource providing informative resources and tips to over 90 million caregivers in the US. It hosts videos, guides, webinars as well as a forum for connecting caregivers. The resources available at CAN cater to caregivers of children, parents, veterans, spouses, neighbors as well as friends.
Brain Test is an application based on the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) and is used to detect early signs of cognitive impairments such as the various forms of dementia. Since patients of cognitive ailments are at times unaware of their own condition or may not be able to conduct a self-administered test, caregivers can use the BrainTest app to assess their loved ones and identify any early signs of cognitive diseases.
Moreover, the website houses a Knowledge Center with important resources for patient caregivers including detailed information on dementia, how to detect cognitive impairments in friends and family and how to look after patients in their early and later stages.
American Cancer Society – Caregivers and Family:
The American Cancer Society website houses a Caregivers and Family section which includes a wide array of resources for caregivers of cancer patients. It contains resources on types of cancers and the road to recovery, how to look after a cancer patient at home, managing financial and insurance matters and helps patients cope with the emotional implications of the ailment. The section also offers caregivers a platform to communicate with other caregivers and contains informative material to enable caregivers to take care of their well-being.
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving:
The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving works to establish local, state-level, national and international partnerships for developing community-based services. These services are meant to empower patient caregivers via resources for improving their health, honing their skills and enhancing their resilience. Their website offers informative resources for patient caregivers regarding a number of diseases and also provides a channel to caregivers for applying for scholarships to attain the knowledge as well as develop the skill to deal with their situation.
VA Caregiver Support:
VA Caregiver Support is a holistic online platform for caregivers of veterans with resources, tip sheets and checklists for caregivers to be well prepared to undertake their responsibilities.
Caregivers can call at their Support Line for any immediate concerns. The Support Line also offers monthly telephonic education groups in which caregivers listen to tips on looking after themselves and various other topics. Every informative call is followed by a Q/A session with the speaker. The website also offers online workshops and tools like medication log to support caregivers.
Medicare Matters is an initiative by the National Council on Aging and provides caregivers of aging individuals comprehensive resources and support on financial issues. Their website provides resources to first-time caregivers about insurance coverage and how to choose and adopt an insurance plan. It also offers in-depth information about coverage plans for prescription drugs and provides an easy online tool for comparing and picking a dosage plan that suits your needs. Medical Matters guides caregivers in receiving financial support from external agencies and also offers a plethora of resources on looking after aging individuals as well as themselves.
Care Conversations is the combined initiative of the National Center for Assisted Living, America’s Skilled Nursing Caregivers and the American Health Care Association. It is a platform aimed at empowering caregivers by bringing them on a singular platform to discuss issues and make informed decisions. The website contains informative articles and videos about diseases and how to look after patients with chronic ailments. Caregivers can also reach out to and seek advice from experts and professional care providers.
The Well Spouse Association is a non-profit organization that supports spouses and partners of chronically ill patients. The website provides peer-to-peer support and informative resources addressing issues like anger, fear, guilt, grief, isolation and financial concerns – all aimed at enabling the ‘well’ spouse to take care of their significant other as well as themselves. The website offers Round Robin letter writing groups, Mentor program and an online chat forum for caregivers.
National Caregivers Library:
National Caregivers Library is an exhaustive database of free informative resources for caregivers.
These online resources can enable you to optimize your caregiving efforts to make them more effective for your loved ones while giving you a healthy living space so that you can live your life to the fullest.