How do you build a network of support while providing care to a loved one? Your family is the most obvious place to start. Family members can be recruited for any number of things. Social support is really important. Some family members may be best at coming over to visit over coffee and then there are others who aren't comfortable coming over unless there is something to do. Try and use the skills of the family to everyone's advantage. So while some are happy to come and visit often with your loved one while you get out to go shopping others might be able to take over for a day just once in a while.
Friends & Neighbors may not really know what is going on while you are preoccupied with caregiving. Your friendship may suffer if they aren't made aware of what you're up against. Friends can be a real asset and they may be perfectly happy to help you with tasks such as cooking or doing some ironing while you see to the bath. You need to strike a balance with friends so keep this in mind. While it may sometimes appear an effort to maintain relationships there are often dividends to be had that may not seem so obvious - until you lose contact.
Look through 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.
The fact that you are reading this means you are already using the internet. Check out www.caregiver.org, where there are many resources to meet the myriad of needs as a caregiver.
Local support in the form of support groups are available. You can find information about upcoming meetings in the newspaper.
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 local support groups, home health agency, or your local doctor or social services.