Connie is a former caregiver who provided care to her grandmother for 20 years. She is also the co-founder of DailyCaring, a digital resource for family caregivers. In this spotlight, we learn how modern technology, digital resources and online communities positively impact caregiving journeys, just like Connie’s.
Tell us about your background and your experience as a family caregiver.
My grandmother and I had a very close relationship ever since I was a child. My parents worked around the clock, so my grandmother was my primary caregiver.
After I graduated from college, I started taking care of her. Instead of my grandmother taking me out to lunch and on errands like she did when I was young, I was taking her on weekly lunch and shopping dates.
Over the next 20 years, I cared for her as she got older, frailer, and started to fall. I started out as her medical advocate and as her needs grew, I took on more. I managed her medications and when her diet became restricted, I made sure she had the right foods to eat and that she was still able to enjoy them in safe ways.
At the age of 99, my grandmother had hip surgery. After that, her mobility became limited and she grew increasingly frail.
That’s when I started doing hands-on personal care. I also helped her with physical therapy every day to keep as much mobility as possible and made sure she had plenty of fun activities so she wouldn’t be bored.
When she needed 24/7 care, I trained and managed our in-home caregiving help, still did some of her hands-on care, and spent as much time with her as I could. I also managed her doctor’s appointments, medications, caregiving supplies, and activities – anything and everything that she needed.
About two years later, my grandmother passed away a month before her 101st birthday.
That’s my caregiving story in a nutshell, but it was only one part of my life. There’s another part of me that’s always been interested in technology.
I grew up here in Silicon Valley and technology has always been a part of my life. I’m drawn to it because it makes life easier. When I started my career, it felt natural to start working in tech. I spent the first part of my professional life building internet products and services for companies like Wells Fargo, Marimba, and NexTag.
In my work life, I used technology to solve problems and I realized I was doing the same thing in my caregiving life. I was constantly using Google to research and learn about my grandma’s health conditions.
Because I was so comfortable using the internet, I could search deeply and eventually find useful information and ideas that helped me come up with solutions to the issues that always pop up when you’re caring for an older adult.
Later, I realized that other family caregivers should be able to benefit from all the knowledge and experience that’s already out there – even if they weren’t tech-savvy.
That’s what inspired me to create DailyCaring. I wanted families to have an easy-to-find, easy-to-use source of education and support and a place where they could get the information that would empower them to make everyday life a little easier.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
That’s a tough question to answer. In some ways, there are so many things that I look back on and wish that I had done differently or “better.” But I also remind myself that I did the best I could with what I knew and what was available at the time.
As a former caregiver, what resources did you wish were available?
I wish I had some of the new and innovative products that eased arthritis pain and made everyday tasks easier because my grandmother endured severe arthritis pain for decades. For her last months, I also wished that we could have tried more of the fun activities that have been designed for people with limited mobility and mild cognitive impairment.
What did you do for self-care during your time as a caregiver?
I wasn’t mindful about self-care while I was a caregiver and didn’t realize how much it affected my overall health and well-being. It’s something I consciously work on now.
Can you tell us about DailyCaring?
DailyCaring.com is a website and daily email newsletter that provide useful and relevant tips, advice, and resources for family caregivers.
Our website is easy to navigate and contains all the articles we’ve ever written. Our email newsletter provides a daily touchpoint and includes helpful information, relevant news, useful product recommendations, and inspiring quotes.
At DailyCaring, we like to break information into easily digestible pieces and often think of ourselves as the “Reader’s Digest” of caregiving and aging.
Our goal is to make it less stressful to do things like learning about complex topics like medical conditions or legal documents, find innovative products that solve specific issues or manage challenging or confusing dementia behaviors.
We keep the tone positive and focus on sharing options and possibilities. DailyCaring is all about empowering families with the information they need to make informed care decisions and improve everyday life.
62% of caregivers say they need help finding information about caregiving topics (2020 AARP & NAC Caregiving in the U.S. report). The good news is that this is down from 78% in their 2009 report.
Even with the power of the internet, access to helpful caregiving information is still a challenge for families. That’s why DailyCaring continues to work on making useful caregiving information and resources more easily available.
How can family caregivers connect with you?
There are a variety of ways to connect with DailyCaring:
Website – www.dailycaring.com
Sign up for email newsletters – https://mailchi.mp/dailycaring/emailsignup
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DailyCaring/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/dailycaring/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/dailycaring
Connie’s story is a great example of how online resources and communities can make all the difference. If you are a family caregiver, click here to find your local CRC to connect with resources today! If you are on Facebook and would like to join our Facebook group to connect with family caregivers, click here.Share this post: