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How Social Media Can Help Caregivers

Internet tools and websites let caregivers vent, ask for assistance and get useful information

Organization tools

Are you scrambling to figure out who will take Mom to her next doctor's visit and who will cook meals for Dad next week? Online tools can keep you organized and even make asking for help a bit easier.

At MealTrain, you can ask friends, family and neighbors to schedule days and times when they might drop off a dinner. You can specify food allergies, likes and dislikes and ensure that your parent has healthy meals arriving when they're needed, instead of all at once.

At WhatFriendsDo, you can request help with whatever chores or errands your parent needs done. Make a list on your personal website if you need to — walking the dog daily, taking in the trash cans, mowing the lawn — so that volunteers can sign up for specific duties.

Caregiver education

Don't know how to safely transfer your parent from his bed to his chair? Do you need a reminder of why it's important to focus on your own health as well as your loved one's? And do you prefer watching videos to reading online? Check out YouTube.

YouTube videos serve as educational tools for the hands-on work of caregiving. Physical and occupational therapists from the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California in San Francisco give a step-by-step tutorial on how to help your loved one sit up in bed and how you can change his sheets. The Caregiving Club offers "Me Time Monday" tips on ways caregivers can focus on their own health and wellness.

To view videos on YouTube, you'll need audio on your computer. You can use the search terms "caregiver" or "caregiving" to find other videos of interest or type in particular topics of interest, such as "medication management" or "incontinence."

And if you're on Twitter …

Twitter can help keep you abreast of the latest caregiving-related news by following the hashtags #caregiver and #caregiving. Because Twitter continuously updates, it's a good way to stay on top of the latest issues surrounding elder care needs. To register for Twitter, simply select a user name and then type in your search terms. And if you decide to post, just remember to keep your thoughts to less than 140 characters.

Also of interest: Ways to deal with caregiver stress. >>

Cynthia Ramnarace writes about health and families. She's based in Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

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