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Who’s in your social network?

Written by Diane Archer

Many of us who care for a relative, partner, friend or neighbor do it without realizing that we are caregivers. And, we often don’t take note of the other people who are providing support to our loved ones. Judith Graham reports for Kaiser Health News about a new initiative to help people recognize the circle of caregivers assisting their loved ones and supporting them, by mapping out who’s in their social network.

The idea of mapping out a social network is simple but profound. It sometimes takes putting the people in your loved one’s life on paper, creating a map that shows who’s doing what and where, for a caregiver to realize that he or she is a caregiver, and that she is not alone. Other people are also providing care in different ways. And, they can be enormously helpful.

Graham describes one person challenged by the desire to move her dad from Idaho to Colorado, near her. Once she put to paper his family members, friends and medical providers, she realized that she could reach out to each of them to help her persuade her dad to move.

By putting to paper, the people in her social network, the caregiver also can better visualize her buddies, the people who she can turn to to ease her stress.

To be sure, many caregivers, much like the people they care for, are socially isolated and feel very much alone. But, sometimes, when you stop to think about the other people in your life–the friend who calls you periodically, the sister you meet for coffee each week, the neighbor who cares for your pets when you’re away, the former colleague from work who stops by to take walk with you–you realize you’re not alone. And, just this realization, this recognition that you have support, can be meaningful and helpful.

Here’s more from Just Care:

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