Neighbors and Friends as Caregivers

As the demand for caregivers increases, seniors often turn to neighbors or friends for support. “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” a report conducted by the nonprofit National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, found that while 85 percent of caregivers were a relative, 10 percent were friends, 3 percent were neighbors and 2 percent were another non-relative.”[1]  However, proximity to family members is an issue for many seniors. Furthermore, relatives might live nearby, but lack the flexibility for daily caregiving and visits.

 

Managing chronic conditions and other physical or mental disabilities often falls to those living in close proximity to an elderly individual. These interactions could begin simply as helping to transport a senior to the grocery store or preparing a meal. Sometimes, the company alone will suffice to provide a senior with a sense of purpose, community and even a lifeline to the outside world. Many seniors who are aging in place and continue to live independently begin to feel isolated and helpless. A weekly visit or a monthly outing provides an invaluable connection. While many neighbors or friends may not be clinically trained to provide nursing services, they can perform basic tasks, such as managing medication and remembering appointments, allowing long distance family members to know that someone is caring for their loved one.

 

As with any caregiving role, the job is challenging. A resource for many caregivers is the Elder Care Locator, a public service through the U.S. Administration on Aging, for connecting with services for aging adults. Through the website, one can find facilities to assist with a multitude of topics, such as Elder Abuse Prevention, Financial Assistance and Home Modifications. Since a neighbor or friend may not be the person to ultimately make the decisions regarding these topics, having the knowledge to share with a senior and their family may possibly alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with such sensitive issues.

 

For many families, it is difficult to leave an elderly loved one on their own. Contributor to Caregivers.com, Merret Mann, created a template to ease communication and relations with neighbors in the surrounding areas.  The family can use it to create a dialogue by providing information to neighbors about contact information and medical conditions, hopefully resulting in a new network of watchful eyes and support. If you or someone you know might find this template useful, please follow this link to view the information and download your own version.

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[1] Schroeder, Michael O. “When Friends Become Caregivers.” When Friends Become Caregivers. US News, 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 9 May 2017.

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