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Are you a caregiver?

June 11, 2013

 

When I first began attending hackathons and various other startup events, the average age range of attendees was 20-30. As I explained some of the problems and burdens of managing a chronic condition, I was often looking at blank faces and would hear something along the lines of “but at most, I go to the doctor once a year.” I would then proceed to mention some of the everyday duties of caregivers. It was then that the lights would go on and immediatley they could relate in some way…

My mom manages the care of my Grandma who has Alzheimer’s

My neighbor has a physically disability

My friend’s son has Autism

I would then end most conversations with “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but at some point every single one of us will need a caregiver and/or be a caregiver.”

Caregiving is not a role you sign up for. There is no training or preparation and although it is improving, there is not a lot of everyday support. The average caregiver provides 10 plus hours/week of unpaid care, misses work or changes jobs altogether, and sacrifices their own health and “free time” to care for a loved one.

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In the past, the caregiver’s story has been somewhat overlooked but now we are learning more and more about the day in, day out selfless work of a caregiver and the overwhelming task of coordination care. There are more resources, more startups and more support…

But what if we all viewed ourselves as caregivers the same way that I suggested we all view ourselves as patients…every day? Would we be able to improve the caregiving process and ease the burden and shock of “after a diagnosis” caregiving.

In a recent article written by Med City News, they discuss a clinic in Maine that “made every individual who touched a client a caregiver to improve care coordination.”. They discuss how every individual in the clinic has a role to play. I believe we can take this one step further to include every individual involved in a patients everyday life (neighbors, friends, teachers, nannies, etc) and make huge improvements in overall care.

Communities often work really great together in times of tragedy. Can we bring these communities together on a continuous basis to collaborate, connect and improve and coordinate everyday care? I believe so.

To improve care coordination and the current caregiver’s role, we must all work together, partake in an everyday role, and remember that these roles are interchangeable.

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  1. Are you a Provider? | A Healthy Billion

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