It’s been referred to as the “silver tsunami.” It’s the tidal wave of the number of individuals who, because of a chronic illness or disability, will need help from family members.
Currently, National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that 66 million persons provide care for family members with chronic illnesses, diseases and injuries. In the future, that number is expected to grow as the baby boomers grow older.
Family members step in to care. But, who helps them? Ask any family caregiver and they’ll tell you about a health care system that offers spotty, if any, help for the family caregiver. But, without help, family caregivers become stressed and burnt-out. (Wanna hear what it’s like to be a burnt-out family caregiver who doesn’t have help? Go here to listen to our recent talk show with Kristin, who cares for a family friend. Or, read Amy’s blog here.) And, without family caregivers, who in the world helps out all those carees who need help?
What’s the answer? How can communities help prevent family caregiver burn-out so that caregiving can continue? We addressed this question during Tuesday’s call-in episode on Your Caregiving Journey talk show; you can listen to our show via the player below. During the show, I shared an idea for a no-cost solution available in all our communities:
Ask former family caregivers to volunteer to help today’s family caregivers.
I often say that the best resource for a family caregivers is another family caregiver. I also believe the best help for a family caregiver is a former family caregiver. Think about all the skills, knowledge, tricks and tips that a former family caregiver has. And, just think how helpful that former family caregiver can be. The help could be respite care (staying with the caree so the family caregiver gets a break). Or calling the family caregiver once a week just to check in. Or calling the caree so the family caregiver can take a few moments to himself/herself. Or, for the long-distance family caregiver, visiting the caree once a week.
So, how do we tap into these former family caregivers and use their skills and knowledge base? By creating a way for these former family caregivers to advertise their availability as volunteers as well as a way for today’s family caregivers to find these volunteers.
Enter SharingStore.com, our classifieds site for previously-owned caregiving supplies, equipment and devices. It’s also now a site to find caregiving volunteers.
If you’re a former family caregiver who would like to volunteer, either in person, over the phone or via email, simply place a free ad on SharingStore.com. Just go here to learn more and to place your ad.
If you’re a family caregiver looking for a volunteer, simply stop by SharingStore.com and search for volunteers in your area or your caree’s area. It’s free to find and connect with a volunteer. Go here to learn more. And, check back on SharingStore.com regularly; we’ll be working to recruit volunteers ready to help you. (We only connect you with possible volunteers; you’ll want to do your due diligence on any volunteer you consider to ensure a good match.)
Thanks to all who volunteer!!