Identifying Your Support System
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You and your relative should try to reach a consensus about what supports are necessary. This may not be easy since your perceptions may differ greatly. It is important that your relative remain as independent as possible as long as physical and mental well-being are assured. Even if you may not come to a perfect agreement, try to keep the lines of dialogue open.
Next, examine the informal network already in existence. Most people have friends, fellow club members, relatives or others who already provide some support.
· Sit down with the older person and discuss social contacts. Who are your long-time family friends? Is your relative a member of a social club or recreational group? Are members of religious groups available to provide help? Who are the people your relative has assisted in the past?
· Make a list of those people who are helping your relative now. With your relative, talk with these people to find out exactly what assistance they're providing and list under their names. Don't forget to verify their addresses and phone numbers in case you need to reach them later.
· Explain your situation. Let them know of your concern and how difficult it is for you since you live out of town. Ask these people to contact you if your relative's situation changes. Remember to leave them your phone number and let them know they can call you collect.
· Show your appreciation for the assistance they are currently offering. Highlight its importance. For example, "Mom has told me how much your evening calls mean to her. She really looks forward to them, and I feel more secure knowing that someone is checking up on her well-being."
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