How Your Facebook Friends Can Help You With Caregiving

Not just another tool for caregivers

Family caregivers become socially isolated as they deal with what may seem to be overwhelming daily duties. And the friends and family of caregivers often want to help but don’t always know how. The end result is stressed caregivers, leading to a vicious downward spiral in which caregivers themselves often end up needing care and those they take care of end up in the hospital.

A new Facebook app seeks to tame this tornado by making it easier for caregivers to receive help, and for family and friends to give it. And, although it won’t solve all of the problems that caregivers face, it’s an ingenious approach that could bring relief to many people. And it’s free.

The Circles of Care

The app is called 2nd Circle.

Think of the recipient of care as being in the center of a circle, with the caregiver, usually a close family member, as the 1st Circle of support. The caregiver usually does most of the coordination of other 1st Circle care providers, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and paid caregivers.

If the caregiver is fortunate, she’ll have family and friends to support him/her. We call this the 2nd Circle.

The members of 2nd Circle, and how they interact with the immediate caregivers, patients/recipients and other members of the 1st Circle will vary. The important thing is that outside-the-home support is vital to the welfare of the caregiver, and thus to that of the recipient/patient.

The 2nd Circle app is designed to recognize and optimize that 2nd Circle of care.

How Your Facebook Friends Can Help You With Caregiving | The Caregiver SpaceWhy Not Help Caregivers or Patients Directly?

We have become much more aware of the problems facing caregivers from our own recent family experiences. Our research, and interaction with caregivers, led us to realize:

  • Patients with caregivers are seldom able or willing to directly access the aforementioned tools themselves. These tools must be targeted to the caregivers.
  • Preventing chronic disease is important, of course (fewer people with chronic disease = fewer caregivers with problems, including their own chronic ailments), but it requires large investments and a long time to take effect, and is subject to many influences outside our control. And even with better disease prevention, there will always be many people needing care, especially considering the aging of the population.
  • Different diseases require different approaches. There are many excellent disease Web sites and tools providing those solutions. We don’t see the need to compete with them.
  • Family caregivers are often too busy and/or emotionally and physically overwhelmed to use the tools made available to them. At the end of a day of caregiving, many people don’t have the time or energy to invest in becoming “faster, smarter, stronger.” They just want some quiet advice and a bit of distraction.
  • The family and friends of caregivers often want to help, but don’t know how to, and are deterred by the lack of responsiveness of exhausted caregivers.

So our app connects caregivers to family and friends outside the often tense homes where the patients/recipients are being cared for and in a friendly and open place – Facebook — where they can relax, be entertained, chat and learn. This can strengthen their resilience, creativity, and initiative.

In short, to help the caregivers we help their family and friends.

Assistance is best received, and given, when there is trust between the recipient and the giver. That trust is strengthened by providing content relevant to the recipient’s life over time.

“All caregiving, all day” is enough to drive even the most compassionate of us insane. It’s best to leaven the caregiving assistance. Besides passing on medical, economic and social advice (if the caregiver clearly wants it), the 2nd Circle app will offer caregivers distraction via Facebook, including humor, music, entertaining pictures and recipes. Meanwhile, more contact between the caregiver and his or her 2nd Circle, strengthens emotional connection and can be just as important as the factual and practical content that’s shared.

About a billion pieces of content are shared every day on Facebook. So we know that there’s something relevant for everyone on site, including such morale-raising diversions as silly cat pictures and dancing baby videos!

Considering the time that people spend on social networks, both just looking and energetically contributing, Facebook provides huge opportunities for ever-expanding 2nd Circle connections.

How to be part of the 2nd circle creation

  • Contribute to our Kickstarter campaign when we launch, on July 1, 2014. Kickstarter is a Web site that brings projects to life through small financial contributions from the many and growing number of people who feel passionate about the project.
  • Like the 2nd Circle Facebook page. We’re aiming for 2,000 likes by the time we launch our Kickstarter project on July 1st.
  • If you know someone who would benefit from 2nd Circle, tell them, and get them to like our Facebook page.

by Max Wells, 2nd Circle

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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