Caregivers can use Lotsa Helping Hands to create personalized Web sites where they can post updates about a loved one's medical condition and request assistance with tasks such as driving to medical appointments or mowing the lawn.
"Sometimes I will say, 'I need a couple of meals this week, and Tom doesn't eat onions and he's having trouble chewing red meat,'" Everett says.
When Everett posts a request for help, all the members of her Lotsa Helping Hands community receive an e-mail alert. Community members must be specifically invited by the caregiver, to ensure users' privacy. If Everett's family and friends can help with a specific task, they simply click a link to sign up. That lets the other community members know the request is fulfilled.
"Now, I don't have to make a million phone calls or leave messages," Everett says. "It's the most amazing time saver."
Lotsa Helping Hands is one of several sites that help caregivers coordinate care.
When a well-meaning friend offers to help, most caregivers are reluctant to follow up. But a caregiver who uses Lotsa Helping Hands can refer friends and relatives to her Web site.
Kenny says the most common requests are for meal drop-off and transportation. Caregivers might ask for someone to walk the dog or shovel snow. Or the caregiver could ask for people to take turns visiting with the person who is ill so that the caregiver can attend her book club or hit the gym.
"The caregivers we work with say, 'I had no idea so many people cared,' or 'I had no idea it wouldn't feel funny to have someone drop off a meal,'" Kenny says.
OFFERING HELP AND COMFORT
CareFlash (www.careflash.com) is similar to Lotsa Helping Hands. Founder
Drayer says that it can be comforting for the sick person to listen to the stories, and the family can keep the module when the person dies. It's also a way to preserve family history.
"It's a collaborative way to tell the story of someone's life," Drayer says.
CaringBridge (www.caringbridge.org) is another popular site for caregivers. It was launched in 1997 primarily as a tool for people to update friends and family about a loved one's illness or recovery. In 2012, CaringBridge added SupportPlanner, where caregivers can request assistance with chores.
Many caregivers use CaringBridge to post medical updates and read well wishes from friends and family members, says
"It's a great communication tool to let people know what's going on," Mehring says. "Friends can leave messages to show their support as well as sign up for tasks. Being able to connect is very therapeutic for caregivers."