Caring Through The Holidays With Caring Bridge

Care-giving during the holidays can be stressful and joyful as well. Seeing a loved one taking part in the holidays and enjoying the spirit of the season can be very rewarding. But let’s face it, just getting to the holiday season with it’s added expectations and additional cooking and buying and dressing up the house, can take nothing short of a Herculean effort, especially when you are already often exhausted from care-giving. If your loved one is ill during the holidays that adds stress to your family exponentially.

As hard as it can be to take the time to reach out and share the burden of care, sometimes it is the best way to help a loved one while at the same time helping you, as a caregiver. Over the past two months I have had the great fortune to discover the free web site Caring Bridge. It has become a great asset in sharing news of my mother’s daily progress and updates as she grows more at ease with her life in her new city. It is a valuable tool that makes me feel better about bridging the gap between her old life and her new life post-diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I first wrote about Caring Bridge last month during National Family Caregiver’s Month.

My Mom’s transition was difficult at first last year, but then in the last nine months she has flourished. She has even found a boyfriend at the age of 75. My Mom’s old life is still near and dear to all of us and, both my brother and I, are conscious of trying to help her stay in touch with those friends and family members who supported all of us during the difficult diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I started using Caring Bridge as soon as I found out about this amazing caregiver resource and the more I used it the better I felt about sharing the care. Now I try to share weekly journal entries as little snapshots into my Mom’s life, her progress, her ups and downs. Today, for instance, she called to tell me she won the Christmas door decorating contest and so I logged into Caring Bridge, which also can be downloaded as an APP to your smartphone – a feature I love – and posted a quick entry about how happy she was to have won. Strange that something as simple as that can almost make me cry these days.

The door we helped decorate for a contest at Mom’s retirement home
Outside my Mom’s hallway

Last week when touring the local Children’s Hospital I was reminded again that many are not fortunate enough to be home for the holidays. I met a family with a son who had just turned one and had been hospitalized for months as they tried to get their son through the early intense stages of chemotherapy. Hudson was away from home with his Mom, Dad and brother. The family was from Thunder Bay, Ontario which for those of you who don’t know Ontario is one of the farthest points North. I don’t know if this particular family uses Caring Bridge, but it’s a natural fit as a patient web site for people whose loved ones are hospitalized for lengthy periods, and away from home. Thousands will share the care this way as they negotiate hospital stays during holidays.

Caring Bridge is simple to use. Log in, create a profile, think about who you are sharing this space for and then create a blog as easy as that. You can add pictures as you choose, or just do simple status updates. I know this resource has been used by thousands of people and families struggling through health care crises.

Caring Bridge takes care a step further with their services – Caring Bridge sites and SupportPlanner. Their mission is to amplify love, caring and support during a health care crisis. I have met many people in the time since I started and we are each scattered across the globe, but tied together virtually in a way that makes us seem so much closer. This is exactly what Caring Bridge does during health care crisis. It gives those who are scattered far away a window into the life of their loved one.

The support part of the site is equally amazing and useful. The support planner came about after requests from users for something to help them centralize support during a health event. The planner acts as an on line calendar. Here you can log in and post a need that you have as a family. Say perhaps you need food delivered once a week, or you need a break, or housekeeping services. You can easily input what you need there privately and only people you invite to view your planner can see the page. There is also a meal planner on the site. Caring Bridge is a non profit charity that relies mainly on individual donors. If you have a relative who has been through a health care crisis then you need to know about this resource for the future and you may want to donate this year to help keep the resource free for as long as there is a need. Caring Bridge does not sell user’s information. The site is secure and safe.

Caring Bridge is on Twitter as
and Facebook here.

Next time you have a relative in hospital or are struggling as many of us do from time to time while busily handling the care of someone close to us, consider Caring Bridge as a resource to help.

This post is sponsored by Caring Bridge. All opinions in this post are my own and not those of Caring Bridge. My opinion is all my own.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.