How To Build a Support System
Look within the family when starting to build a support system. Family members, even if not direct caregivers, can be recruited for any number of things. Social support is really important. Some family members may be best at coming over for a coffee and chat and some only feel they are helping if there's things to do.
The point is to try and use the skills of the family to everyone's advantage. So while some are happy to do the grocery shopping, others might be able to take over for a day just once in a while.
Friends & Neighbors
Friendships and neighbors will frequently say "tell me if there's anything I can do". Unfortunately, those offers to help are going to dwindle over time if you don't allow them to do something. How many times is someone going to offer their help if they are constantly turned down? Friends can be very helpful if they are given tasks that both of you are comfortable with. For example, they may feel inadequate taking over for an entire day, but may be a huge help with getting odds and ends completed while you are busy with giving your loved one a bath. Tasks such as cooking or doing some ironing may seem small and insignificant to them, but make a huge dent in the daily work load for you. Think about what the neighbor may really be saying when they offer their help; for the most part it's not just lip service. My sister's mother-in-law was reluctant to take a neighbor up on her offer to visit with her infirmed mother on a Saturday afternoon while she went to her grandson's football game. She really did want to help! Leaving her "Mum" in the care of the neighbor gave both of them quality time. Enid came back home recharged and ready to tackle the rest of the weekend.
Check the yellow pages, read the newspaper to see who offers what. You may find volunteer networks, handymen and services you hadn't previously thought of that could help your particular needs. Most larger towns and cities have their own websites. You may find a place to post free ads for volunteer help or services.
The fact that you are reading this means you are already using the net to your advantage. You might also want to check out eldercare locator who offer a service to link those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations.
Respite provides alternate care for a person in order to give their caregiver some time away from their caring role. Respite can often be undertaken in your own home, or day centers, or a residential facility. To find out out respite care speak to people in your local area, or your local doctor or social services.