How to Build a Support Network for Senior Care
As our loved ones grow older, they sometimes need help from friends and family members to ensure their health, safety, and quality of life. But often, one person ends up becoming the primary caregiver, taking on all the burdens of providing care, which can lead to burnout, feelings of resentment, and a lower quality of life for the caregiver themself.
A strong support network can help make a senior loved one’s care a community effort, so it doesn’t fall solely onto one person. Not only does this help prevent caregiver burnout, it also ensures higher-quality, more comprehensive care.
However, building a support network for senior care is often easier said than done. It takes detailed planning, strong communication, and effective organization, but the results are well worth the effort.
The Importance of a Community Approach
When an aging parent or loved one reaches a point where they need assistance with everyday tasks, a community approach can help ensure they get the care they need without placing all the responsibility on a single caregiver.
With an organized network of family members, friends, neighbors, and professional caregivers, everyone can contribute in a way that works for them — whether through their time, abilities, resources, or finances.
Organizing a Support Network
Developing a strong support network for a senior loved one’s care requires careful planning and organization to ensure everyone understands their role and responsibilities.
1. Determine What Kind of Help Your Loved One Needs
You should start by determining exactly which tasks your loved one needs assistance with. Do they need help with meals? Housekeeping? Running errands? If you have a comprehensive list of everything that the support network needs to help with, it will make it much easier to ensure you have people covering all the bases.
2. Identify Potential Contributors
Next, you can create a list of family members, friends, neighbors, and professionals who might be able and willing to help. You should consider their availability, location, and the kind of support they are best suited to offer.
When you reach out to them, explain the situation and why their help is needed, but prioritize those who are ready and willing to become a part of the support network long term. If you have to convince or coerce, it can lead to feelings of resentment, and they may end up being an unreliable member of the care team.
If someone wants to help but doesn’t have the capacity to contribute on a regular basis, you can always enlist them as a backup for when a primary member is sick or on vacation.
3. Define Roles and Responsibilities
Once you have a list of people who are ready to help, the next step is to clearly define what each member of the network can or wants to do, based on their capabilities. This could range from running errands or driving them to doctor appointments to assisting with daily housekeeping or offering regular companionship.
The list of tasks you created in step one will be a big help here to ensure that you don’t have multiple people making meals and no one providing transportation.
4. Use Scheduling Tools
There are tons of scheduling tools or apps that can help you organize and coordinate caregiving tasks. Whether you use a cloud-based mobile app or a simple spreadsheet, a clear schedule will ensure that responsibilities are evenly distributed and everyone is aware of their commitments.
5. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Effective communication is critical for a successful support network. You can use group chats, emails, or just regular phone calls to keep everyone in the loop. With transparent and open communication, you can address and resolve any issues promptly and make adjustments to the care plan as needed.
If support network members feel that they can be open and honest with the rest of the team, it can help prevent caregiver burnout and lapses in care. So make sure everyone understands the importance of speaking up if they are feeling overwhelmed and need to take some time off.
Leveraging Support Resources
You may need to look outside your loved one’s family or social circle to find all of the resources needed for a comprehensive support network. If there are gaps in the care plan, these services can help.
- Community Resources: Local communities often offer senior day centers, support groups, and non-profit organizations that can help with the burden of care.
- Professional Caregiving Services: At-home caregivers not only take some of the day-to-day responsibilities off of friends and family members’ plates, but they also bring professional expertise and can help handle more complex care needs.
- Healthcare Professionals: Your loved one’s doctors can help ensure that the care plan meets their needs and suggest additional support options.
A Comprehensive Support Network
Developing a support network is essential for providing sustainable, effective care and preventing caregiver burnout — but sometimes our loved ones need more care than family and friends can provide.
If you need an extra hand managing your senior loved one’s care, Right Hand Care is ready to be a part of your support network. Our affordable in-home caregivers can help with everything from personal care to companionship, providing relief and assistance to family caregivers.
For more information on our services or to set up a care plan, contact us today.
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