High-Tech Help For Keeping Friends and Family Updated During Long Illnesses



By Kaye Swain

Jitterbug large easy to use cell phones for elderly seniors citizens are greatHow do we keep our friends and family updated when a loved one is in the hospital? If they are only in for a day or two, a simple phone call or two may suffice. But what if it is a prolonged illness? Especially if that is combined with a large family or group of friends.

With boomers and seniors living longer and staying healthier, that is becoming a more common occurrence. Fortunately, along with the newer medical technology that is helping to achieve that, we also have some different kinds of technology to help us stay in touch easily. Here are a couple that my friends and family have used recently:

  1. Delegate one family member and one friend per social group (church, Rotary club, scrapbooking group, etc.) to be the liasons. They should be the ones that already have most or all of the needed contact info. Your family just sends one email to those few, or calls them with daily general updates. Each liaison sends the info out with information specific to their group. We recently had a dear friend in the hospital and that worked so great for us. One family member kept the family all updated with the complete personal info. The vice president of our club kept all of us updated with how our friend was doing, when we could visit him, etc. That way, the family is not having to spend too much time on the phone, trying to deal with the same questions over and over, as we could write our own contact person to get updated information or ask questions.
  2. CaringBridge.com is a great way to help keep family and friends updated at one online location. They "provide personal, protected web sites where you can post health updates during any type of health event. Your friends and family are able to visit your site to stay informed and leave supportive messages." And thanks to donations they receive, they are able to do this  24/7 to anyone, anywhere at no cost.
  3. Set up a private facebook or twitter page and keep it updated regularly. Give out the log-on info to friends and family and require them to "be approved" in order to read the information.

All of these are great high-tech ways to make it a bit easier for an overwhelmed family to keep friends and families "in the loop." But one caveat. As with other types of technology, it's always vital to be cautious. Make sure your virus software is up-to-date, be careful who you give access to, and don't put anything online that you wouldn't want strangers to read. Besides the daily occurrence of hackers breaking into websites, your own friends and family might forward on an email, whether to share the update with friends or accidentally. Or they could print it, leave it out, and someone might accidentally see it. My personal policy is to only share what I am comfortable with the whole world knowing - just to be safe.

Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.