In honor of National Family Caregiver Month: The month is coming to an end, but the job of the caregiver does not. Take a moment to thank a caregiver whenever you have the opportunity and if you are a caregiver, don’t hesitate to reach out to a support network online or off. You don’t have to go it alone.
Sona Mehring, CEO of CaringBridge saw a need and set out to fill it using her knowledge of the internet and social networking. In 1997, Sona was called upon by a friend in need for support during a health crisis. She was asked to contact her friend’s family and friends to let them know what was going on and to keep them up to speed.
Realizing the amount of time and emotional energy that would be required to fulfill her friends request, Sona created a website that did everything for her via email. Her website worked so well and was so efficient that it led to another birth: CaringBridge, a non-profit website that provides the tools needed to do what she did, create a web-based support network during a health crisis.
Sona understood the value of time and efficiency when she faced her own caregiving crisis. Like most she realized her energy was better spent with her friend or keeping up with the demands of her own already busy life than by spending hours on the phone and trying to contact and coordinate support in person.
Keeping everyone in the loop during a health crisis can take endless hours of telephone tag and comparing schedules. The CaringBridge SupportPlaner enables friends and family members to post health updates, leave supportive messages, organize tasks such as taking care of pets, bringing a meal, running errands and even hospital visits at the individuals convenience. It gives the helper the time to look at what is already being done by others, to see what needs are waiting to be filled and to determine how best he/she can fill them.
In the last decade, social network tools and websites have had an enormous impact on the world of the caregiver. We no longer need to be alone in our own world of overwhelm and stress. Help and support is just a click away.
When used properly these tools “amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier”. This is CaringBridge’s mission statement and the testimonies supplied by many users tell me they are living up to their mission. Here are a few of the stories they have posted on their website.
One of the most difficult aspects of any caregiving situation is the emotional and physical fatigue that often accompanies any health crisis. Easy access to a support network can make all the difference. I know I plan to use one next time I find myself in such a situation. Thanks Sona Mehring and CaringBridge for all you do!