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Supporting Our Caregivers

A Phone Call Away: Helping Caregivers One Conversation at a Time

Jennifer Piscitello

Care Advocate, Caregiver Action Network

Millions of family caregivers in the United States means millions of questions and daily worries. Caregiver Action Network lends an ear and a helping hand.

“I don’t know … I’m just not sure where to begin.” The caller’s hesitation says it all: confusion, frustration, isolation.

The care advocate’s response: “Just take a breath. When you’re ready to talk, I’m here to listen. Let’s do this together.”

Care needed for caregivers

For Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a national nonprofit organization for family caregivers that provides care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities or increasing difficulties due to old age, moments like these can be incredibly rewarding — giving caregivers resources they didn’t know existed and a path to get help when times are tough.

There are tens of millions of family caregivers across the United States, many of whom feel isolated and lost. Caregivers are constantly scrambling to fill a need or find answers while also trying to balance caregiving with the rest of their lives, which more often than not includes jobs and kids of their own. The multitude of responsibilities and accompanying pressures can quickly lead to burnout and jeopardize the caregiver’s own physical and mental health, and they often don’t know where to turn. But because every patient and family situation is unique, there is no single comprehensive solution or one-size-fits-all resource.

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Help is here

CAN aims to address this need with our recently launched Caregiver Help Desk and team of care advocates. The Help Desk is a completely free tool to meet each caregiver where they are and connect them with caregiving experts who can help answer their questions. Where many caregivers don’t acknowledge the time and emotional energy they expend on their loved one, and may be too distracted to fully take care of themselves, care advocates at CAN are there to provide validation and reinforcement.

I recently spoke with a woman caring for her parents from out of state who didn’t consider herself a caregiver because she wasn’t physically involved on a daily basis. “You are absolutely a caregiver,” I reassured her.

An ear to listen

My aim is to make caregivers’ situation feel more manageable, so I try to offer tools that will give them a plan and the energy needed to push forward when they feel stuck. Sometimes that comes in the form of actionable steps, but sometimes they just need someone to listen. In many cases, simply having a conversation about their situation changes a caregiver’s day for the better. Start your caregiver conversation by chat or email at caregiveraction.org, or call 1-855-227-3640.

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