The Community Foundation’s Caregiver Support Initiative addresses the needs of unpaid family caregivers. We connect caregivers with resources on Washoecaregivers.org and share information through our Washoe Caregivers Guidebook. This year, the pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including family caregiving. It was clear at the start of the pandemic that caregivers needed to stay connected with other caregivers – that is why we created the Caregiver Support Initiative Email Discussion Group.
Although rewarding, caregiving can also be stressful, making it hard for people to understand what it is like unless they are caregivers themselves. Caregivers face many tough questions. Who will take care of Mom if I get COVID-19? How do I stay positive and continue to help my family member while coping with isolation?
With many in-person support groups cancelled, caregivers need a way to ask questions, share stories, and, most importantly – connect. We launched the Caregiver Support Initiative Email Discussion Group in late April with 7 members. Since then, the group has grown to 70 members. Although free and open to the public, we approve members and review posts in advance to ensure that it supports local, quality discussion on caregiving.
The Caregiver Support Initiative Email Discussion Group covers various topics from fun activities to do while isolating to more serious topics like caregiving during COVID-19, social isolation, and more.
Within the group caregivers shared what they like to do for fun while isolating:
“I was thrilled when I found puzzles that my mom enjoyed that were especially made for people with dementia.”
Another caregiver shared a story about someone they cared for who has passed:
“My treasured memories were walking with my grandmother as a child as she answered all my questions patiently and with care. She taught me a lot.”
Another shared the challenges of dementia:
“When my mom’s dementia progressed to the point where she did not recognize her family, it was hardest on us — not her. My brother came to visit and she delighted in being with him but didn’t know who he was. One night during dinner, she smiled broadly — pointed her fork at him and said, ‘I remember you. You are the little kid that used to play in our neighborhood.’ He loved that. It was heartbreaking that she didn’t recognize my brother. The more I insisted he was her son, the more defensive and confused she became so I quit, and my brother accepted it.”
Because the Community Foundation acted quickly, we provided a much needed and timely virtual support group to caregivers in our community. While this year has brought incredible hardship to so many in our area, we are a stronger community when we are connected.
This holiday season can bring extra stress and isolation to family caregivers. If you or someone you know can benefit from being a part of our Email Discussion group, you can sign up here: https://washoecaregivers.org/connect/.
For more information on caregiving resources, please email Luiza Benisano at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Community Foundation at 775-333-5499.