People who care for elderly parents are among the millions of Americans who regularly participate in social media. More than 65 percent of people caring for elderly parents use the Internet as their primary means of support and encouragement, according to an AgingCare.com survey. Family caregivers are using online forums and message boards, such as the caregiving forum to connect with other caregivers, ask for suggestions, or just vent about what's bothering them.
"People who are caring for elderly family members often feel helpless and alone. They feel trapped in their home, and getting someone to care for their elder while they attend an in-person support group simply isn't realistic. Through online communities, they are able to connect with others who are facing the same daily struggles. They can build new relationships with other caregivers and strengthen their support system – all without leaving their home," says Joe Buckheit, Founder of AgingCare.com.
According to the survey, 53% of caregivers provide care 40 or more hours per week, while 36% get a break of less than 5 hours a week.
These busy family caregivers find it beneficial that they can access support whenever they have time, 24-hours-a-day. "Family caregivers have limited time during the day: Mom needs to go to the doctor or have a bath. Dad has to be fed and kept from wandering out of the house. Add in the other responsibilities of sandwich generation caregivers who balance care between aging parents and children and there's no time left," Buckheit says.
Most posts are coming in very late at night or early in the morning, according to Community Moderators for AgingCare.com. "When I sign in around 5 a.m., the posts that came in overnight string out like a list. This group is exploding in numbers. Caregivers will give up an hour of precious sleep to find out they are not as isolated as they think and to help one another. Caregivers get support whenever they can find the time." An online resource allows caregivers to access the advice, compassion and encouragment of other caregivers regardless of regular business hours.