December 2020
We need your help for #GivingTuesday! Click here to read more.

During this Thanksgiving holiday season, we want to thank and offer our support to all the caregivers, carers, and care partners who hold our families and communities together. This special issue started out as a section of our monthly PlaneTalk e-newsletter but quickly grew so big that it had to become a special issue of its own. And what better time to give an appreciative shout-out to all the folks who care for their families, friends, and neighbors?

There are more caregivers than we think

If asked who they would label as a caregiver, most people would point to someone who spends significant hours each day caring for another adult and often is paid to do so. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, however; there are far more people who take care of family members or friends outside of those doing it as paid labor. Others who give care include the people who help with someone's weekly grocery shopping, who come over every so often to help with heavy lifting tasks around the home, who drive loved ones to and from appointments, who deliver Meals on Wheels as a volunteer, or who help sort out bills and healthcare paperwork. AARP’s survey research found that:

  • Today, millions of Americans serve as family caregivers and, with the population aging, those numbers will only increase as time goes on. As of 2020, more than 1 in 5 Americans (21.3%), or 50.3 million adults in the United States, were caring for an adult loved one or a child with special needs.

Mapping all the people we give care to (and receive support from) can be an eye-opening experience, as well as a useful tool for planning for a better quality of life now and in possible futures. (See the Atlas of Caregiving’s explanations and instructions for creating Care Maps here.)

Those caring tasks add up. Even before the pandemic hit, they had significant impact, as this 2018 profile of family caregivers in California shows (en Español aquí):

Online Support is Plentiful - and Available 24/7

Having so much information online, and available at any time, is a real boon for carers, but wading through so much material to find useful nuggets can be disheartening, frustrating, and overwhelming. To make it easier for carers, and to save time, PlaneTree Health Library has pulled together the best free online resources into our Caregiving Resources guide. As the Rosalynn Carter Institute points out in its article "Careging During COVID-19," the basics of giving care have not changed. In fact, they have become more important than ever during the pandemic.

Tools for communicating and organizing can literally be lifesavers, as the Caregiver Action Network explains in "Family Caregiving During the Pandemic" You can find more information about calendars, checklists, managing files, coordinating tasks between carers, keeping records, and other techniques and tools in our Caregiving Resources guide. For people who are self-isolating, those with loved ones in nursing facilities that have had to ban visitors, or caregivers trying to provide from a distance, virtual visits and telehealth appointments using apps like Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype have really been coming into their own. (If you’re curious about how this works, take a look at AARP’s "How to use Zoom to stay connected during the coronavirus.” For ideas on tech and techniques for communicating at a distance, see 7 ways families can stay connected to senior loved ones during COVID-19.” Of course, when we are all isolating, whether under quarantine or stay-at-home orders, the distance in “caregiving at a distance” could be as close as next door or downstairs. Our Caregiving at a Distance resource guide offers ways to work around separation, no matter how far or near we may technically be.

Unfortunately, so many of the conditions that need care in “normal” times make those people much more vulnerable to the pandemic’s coronavirus. The Caregiving and the Coronavirus: TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS series (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese) contains useful reminders to keep on hand. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers a great list of links in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources and Articles for Family Caregivers, many of which specifically target the Bay Area.

COVID-19 is more deadly in older people and in people with disabilities, medical conditions, or chronic illness. Caregivers for seniors will find numerous links to information and support on our Caregivers Resource guide; for special considerations during this pandemic, see also:

Coronavirus and COVID-19: Caring for the Elderly (Johns Hopkins Medicine) 
Cancer Caregiving During the Coronavirus Outbreak (American Cancer Society)
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for Dementia Caregivers (Alzheimer’s Association
What Happens When Caregivers Get Sick? [carers for children with disabilities] (UIC Specialized Care for Children)

What happens when the person being cared catches COVID-19? What happens when the caregiver comes down with it as well? The CDC advises:

Caring for Someone Sick at Home [COVID-19] (CDC)
Sick Parents or Caregivers [COVID-19] (CDC)

Caring for those who give care

The burdens of family caregiving can be very heavy; it can be difficult for caregivers to show the same levels of care to their own health and well-being that they show to their friends, families, and/or neighbors. Thankfully, there are numerous sources for caregiver support. Our page Caring for Caregivers includes links to some of the best resources, which discuss specific concerns and solutions for caregivers during this pandemic:

Information for Family Caregivers (Red Cross)
Women, Caregiving, and COVID-19 (CDC)
Caregiving During COVID

Also be sure to check out support groups for caregivers! Some are still meeting in-person online (see these Support Groups); for others (including support groups for caregivers of people with a specific disease or condition) see this AARP  guide to finding the right support group for you.

With much gratitude and appreciation for all the care given to so many!

PlaneTree Health Library staff and Board of Directors

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and #GivingTuesday. Your support makes a difference. Be a part of something big this November!

On December 1st, join the worldwide movement and give - whether you give your time, your voice, or a donation, the idea is simple. #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday comes on the heels of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy. When everyone is out shopping join us in making a positive difference in our community.

With your help, we can raise more funds to support the library and our mission to provide accurate, trustworthy, and free health and medical information. #GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together doing extraordinary things – and we need your help.
  • Share your voice – You can share your voice by letting your networks know that you support and value PlaneTree Health Library this #GivingTuesday. Follow our Facebook page or connect with us on social media @PlanetreeLib and use the hashtag #LibraryLove to let us know why you support public libraries and how you’ll be participating on #GivingTuesday this year.
  • Donate – You can make a gift to the library that will allow us to continue to provide trustworthy and accurate patient and consumer health information  and help us reach more people in underserved parts of the community.
Together we'll bring about real positive change!
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