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Sunday, December 23, 2007

What About Starting a Network of Caregivers' Telephone Helplines?

When caregivers need help but don't know where to turn, a Caregivers' Hotline could be a source of quick referrals to resources. Similar to the mental health hotlines, this could be a number to call when caregivers need to find a support group, a counselor, a place to vent, or resources for the person the caregiver is assisting. This idea has come to me because during the holidays, when part of the people are having a great time, I've been contacted by caregivers who are overwhelmed with stress and need help.

A Caregivers' Helpline, similar to other helplines, such as mental health helplines, could refer caregivers to resources in the same way. It could be a place to call for caregivers who are feeling they are in a crisis. Counselors could refer the caregivers to groups, caregiver counseling, caregiver support, resources to provide caregiver relief, and other helpful resources.

The holidays can be happy times, but doctors and counselors know that the holidays can also be times of crises. When the "cognitive distance" between those who are enjoying the holidays and those who are overwhelmed with stress becomes too great for overworked caregivers, the sense of isolation intensifies.

Some type of help is needed for those caregivers who are in crises, during the holidays or anytime. A network of Caregiver's Helplines or Caregivers' Crises Hotlines, staffed by volunteers who are trained in referring people to resources, and in good listening skills, would reach out to isolated caregivers who are in a crisis.

Many caregivers are not proficient with the internet, or cannot afford computers. A telephone number would be a way to reach these people. I volunteer at a seniors' center and many of the seniors have a spouse who is a caregiver, and who does not know how to use computers. Many younger caregivers have never had the time to study computers or high tech, and/or, have never had the finances to afford computers in the midst of family financial crises.


Anonymous said...

North Dakota and Minnesota have help lines. Minnesota's is especially good. It's called Senior LinkAge and is just for senior issues. North Dakota, like some other states, has the 211 help line. This is more general, but you can get help with elder issues there, too.
Carol Bradley Bursack

Kristi Marie Gott said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad to know some states have caregiver or senior helplines. Maybe some more states will join in.