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After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Caregiver Village online community new approach to caregiver outreach

I'm one of the 60 million caregivers in the United States that spends a significant portion of my day caring for  a family member with chronic medical problems - in my case a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and medical complications resulting from exposure to Agent Orange.  After more than 40 years of this responsibility, caregiving is simply ingrained in my daily life and I have learned to cope with the stresses it creates by engaging in cultural enrichment through my study of the ancient world and by focusing on my writing and digital photography activities in my spare time.

But, as a retired technology professional, I also try to keep up with new uses of technology, especially for educational purposes so was intrigued to see that health care and counseling professionals along with a team of technology developers have reached out to family caregivers through a new online social network community called Caregiver Village.  In Caregiver Village, members who subscribe to the service for $4.95 per month (they do offer a free 30 day trial) can play an ongoing Sims-like mystery game called the "Village Chronicles".  Each episode offers players a chance to learn better self-care, stress management skills and positive attitudes while solving puzzles and earning achievements as they explore an episodic mystery surrounding a caregiving situation.

Members can also join book club discussion groups led by authors who have written books about caregiving for a variety of conditions and access resources for dealing with ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism, cancer, depression, diabetes, general aging, general caregiving needs, heart disease, mental and developmental delays, mental/emotional illness, Parkinson’s, physical disabilities, stroke, surgery, injury or wounds, and war-related injuries and are encouraged to share their own experiences through personal journals and interacting with other community members.

"People connect based on common needs and interests in a place that becomes their own village of support and encouragement," say site developers.  "Family caregivers are exhausted, stressed to the point of illness and frustrated by their isolation.Caregiver Village’s virtual village creates a close knit community where caregivers can discover a sense of deep personal satisfaction – and escape – from the hard, intense work of family caregiving; while simultaneously learning how to handle their stress and building online connections with people in exactly the same situation as them."

 So, if you have found yourself in a long-term caregiving role and would like to meet and interact with others in a similar situation, check out Caregiver Village.


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