"I am very grateful for all the help and support I have received from L2C. For someone who was as computer-illiterate as I was when I first logged on, it was easy to understand and access the different sites."
Link2Care is celebrating nine months of providing groundbreaking Internet support to family caregivers. Thanks to a grant from The California Endowment, Link2Care is the first program in the country to use the Internet to provide online information, services, and connections to caregiving families on demand, utilizing existing community services.
The pilot program operates in partnership with five California Caregiver Resource Centers and the University of Wisconsin.
Through Link2Care, families have access to a secure website with a wide variety of interactive programs. One of the favorite areas on the site is Ask the Expert, in which families are able to get expert advice on medical and legal caregiving issues. Said one participant, "I can't tell you how much I appreciate being able to ask questions and receive your helpful and supportive answers. And, it is so useful to use the Internet, because I can ask the question and get the answer when it is troubling me and not have to wait for several weeks until I can see someone. I always thought of myself as very able to take responsibility, but it is so scary to try to make good decisions for my mom, my family and me...".
Another favorite is Journaling. A virtual spiral-bound notebook awaits the family caregiver in this part of the website. Here one can write confidential thoughts that can be added to or deleted as desired. Caregivers can also work through meaningful preplanned exercises provided by the journal.
The Discussion Group, also popular, is a forum to share ideas and get peer support. Many of the Link2Care caregivers have found the discussion group a good place to escape feelings of isolation so common when caring for someone with a dementing illness.
Two other sections that are visited often are the Overview of Dementia and Q & A Resource Sections where caregivers can find factual information about dementia as well as how to deal with challenging behaviors associated with Alzheimer's disease.
For caregivers without a computer or access to the Internet, Link2Care staff secured information appliances for caregivers to borrow. These appliances are compact and easy to use.
"We are very excited about the potential of Link2Care" says FCA's Executive Director Kathy Kelly. "We feel it makes a significant contribution to the available resources for family caregivers and provides an excellent outlet for information and support. Participants really feel they're part of a community, and not isolated."
Enrollment in Link2Care is still open for caregivers in regions served by Family Caregiver Alliance, Mountain CRC, Del Mar CRC, Valley CRC, and Del Oro CRC. California caregivers interested in Link2Care, please call (800) 445-8106. There is no charge to participate.
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