Caregivers and Social Media

Not sure where to turn for help? Find out how Facebook, twitter and more can help you get educated, stay organized and provide an outlet to vent.

Diana Bierman
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You know that social media is a hotspot for youngsters, but did you know these networking tools can also benefit caregivers?

This modern marvel encompasses Internet-based platforms that enable you to receive information, feedback and support from others. While traditional websites offer information, social media allow for interaction.

It’s no surprise then that caregivers spend about 150 minutes a month on social media sites, according to research by consulting firms Age Lessons and comScore. They also browse 70% more online pages than the average person.

Don’t wait to get started! Here’s how you can reap the benefits of social media:

What it is:
 The largest of the social media sites, Facebook allows you to promote just about anything—from pictures, to recipes, to ideas. It also has pages that you can “like” or groups you can join pertaining to your particular needs. Connect with family members, friends or people who share similar interests.

How it can help: Try “liking” a page for caregivers and interact with people experiencing similar concerns and struggles. Or search for a caregiving group about your loved one’s condition. Facebook is also a good way to keep distant family in the loop about the person you’re caring for. Are you looking for extra help? Update your status asking for volunteers, or post the query to a group’s wall (the space where you can leave messages).

What it is:
 Twitter, a real-time social networking service, is always updating, so it’s a convenient way to keep current on the latest news and opinions. You can tweet (write your thoughts in under 140 characters) and “hashtag,” a twitter tool used when a pound sign precedes a word or phrase. Hashtagging provides a way to search for tweets on a common topic, helping you obtain more detailed information on the subjects you need.

How it can help: Even if you choose not to tweet, a twitter account allows you to follow sources for caregiver-related news, such as @caregivertweets, @forcaregivers or even companies like the National Alliance for Caregiving (@NA4Caregiving) and the AARP (@AARP). The more people you follow, the more likely you’ll gain your own following crowd who you can tweet back and forth to about common caregiver concerns. Also search for the hashtags #caregiving or #caregiver and others to find more related tweets.

What it is:
 YouTube harbors billions of videos on a range of topics. Registering allows you to watch as well as upload films. But even if you don’t have your own YouTube channel, you can still view public videos.

How it can help: Need to install grab bars in the bathroom? Have to transport your loved one from the couch to the bed? Let’s face it—caregiving doesn’t always come with directions. Browse YouTube for some educational self-help tutorials. YouTube can help you actually see the tasks at hand instead of reading an article on how to do it.

Time-saver: Check out the comments and ratings beforehand to see if others found the video helpful. Also, note the user who posted the video (i.e. a university would be a credible source get information).

November 2012