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Six L’s of Caring and Coping- Keep Friends and Family in the Loop

June 30, 2007
by Dave Balch, Founder of The Patient/Partner Project

As caregiver, one of the most difficult things for me was keeping everyone informed about my wife’s progress.  We would come home from a grueling day of medical appointments or tests to sometimes find as many as 14 messages on our answering machine from well-meaning people that truly cared, who wanted to know “How is she feeling?” or “What did the doctor say?” or “What’s next?”

The last thing I felt like doing was returning all of those calls, telling the same stories and answering the same questions over and over again. I had too much to do as it was! And, on top of that, was all of the things that go with returning calls: “telephone tag,” toll charges, time-zone differences… ahhhhhh!  I can feel the stress building just writing about it!

On the other hand, it was important to keep these people updated on her progress because they really cared and certainly didn’t mean to cause us more stress.

What to do?  The answer can be summed-up in a single word:  email.

Being basically a computer geek, I created an email list of all of our friends and family and sent them progress reports once a week or so.  The phone calls stopped immediately:  it was terrific!  Then, I posted the reports on my personal web site so that people could “catch up” if they were added to the list after the fact.  It was easy for me and everyone loved it because they felt like they were “in the loop.”

The main point here is this: in order to reduce your stress, find a way to keep everyone informed without spending a lot of time on the phone.  You save time and energy, both of which are probably in short supply anyway, and you can keep many more people informed than by doing it manually.

The Patient/Partner Project provides just such a service for those who cannot create their own email list or post to their own website.  It is called “Private Online Progress Reporting” and it is provided free of charge.  Here’s how it works: you can create a private email list and then post progress reports.  Each time you post a report, the system automatically sends an email to everyone on your list inviting them to come to the site to read what you’ve written.  It is completely private and secure: no one can read your reports unless they already know the unique ID that you created.

              (You can also create your own personal journal or blog on the Pink-Link website. Choose "password protected" from your member profile page. After your friends and family register on Pink-Link, give them the password to your journal and they can log on and read your updates.)

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