Crowdsourcing your caregiving

Crowdsourcing is all the rage these days. Webster’s defines it as “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.”

In the business world, that means that companies are cutting costs by putting jobs out to bid to a vast international community of workers. They are holding contests in which thousands of people submit ideas but only one gets paid.  They are even raising money by getting individual $10 contributions from  hundreds of strangers.

So how does that relate to caregiving?  You can’t exactly put your loved one on the internet—much less outsource them to India.

No, but you can ask for help.

One of the biggest sources of stress in caregiving is the loneliness and isolation of it—both for the caregiver and the person being cared for. You can keep that from happening.

There may be other family members who would welcome a chance to be involved but don’t know how. That’s ideal. Sign them up for a specific time—every day from 4 to 5 or alternate Tuesday evenings or whatever works for them and helps you. Then be sure to take that time to get out of the house to do something you enjoy.

Or there may be a group of old friends who are nervous about taking on even a hour of caregiving themselves, but find strength in numbers. I know a group of long-time golf buddies who every Friday bring a box lunch to share with their friend who was felled by a stroke. It means his wife can go have Friday lunch with her friends. She says it has saved her sanity—and kept her husband feeling like part of the community.

Of course, sometimes disaster strikes soon after you have relocated. While new neighbors are unlikely to step up to the plate, members of your religious community might. Or volunteers from Senior Companions or other similar programs.  Or even a paid caregiver.

You can even ask family members to come for a long weekend; just be sure to be clear that they are coming to help you, not to be a houseguest.

The point is not to try to go it alone. Send up a white flag. Ask for help. And if there is no response, insist. You can always point out that you are just being current.