Facebook for Caregivers
One of the ways I have navigated the care for my parents without feeling alone is by using Facebook. You may think of Facebook as just a silly program on the computer that kids use to gossip and overshare. I recognized the true value of Facebook as I reflected on two separate incidents with my parents.
Twelve years ago, my father had an accident that nearly killed him. That day, as I stood by my mom and worried that my dad would die from his injuries, I desperately needed to reach out to my siblings. They all live far away--and in three very different time zones (California, Virginia and Germany). Getting in touch with each of them and re-telling the story each time, was emotionally draining. They worried and wanted to be updated often, and that was not easy with poor cell reception and odd hours. I felt scared and disconnected, and I felt like all of the responsibility of care rested on my shoulders.
Two years ago my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. I remember the dread that I felt and that intense need to connect with my siblings immediately. This time I was able to type in the news quickly--just once--and within minutes everyone knew what was happening and began supporting each other. Research began, and was shared. Calendars were checked, travel plans were made. Everyone knew who was flying in to help. Throughout the months of care, we all stay connected daily. Whoever was caring for the folks, kept the others updated. We faced the challenge together as a family, and we used Facebook messaging as our main avenue of communication.
The crisis is past (mom is in remission), but we continue to stay connected daily through Facebook. We share news of kids and grandkids, jobs and health challenges. We share family photos and funny quotes and ideas of all kinds. Sometimes we share publicly so all of our friends can see…sometimes we cry together in private discussions. That's the beauty of Facebook--so many ways to communicate using just one tool.
As a caregiver, you are often isolated. Facebook is one way to stay connected with the people that you love…and that can make all the difference in the world.
To read about other ways to use social media as a caregiver, check out my blog at www.gentog.com.
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