By the time Corry Horsman, of Edmonton, Alta., discovered the U.S. website Caring.com three years ago, she was at her wit’s end.
Her mother Cornelia, who has dementia, refused to go to sleep. Even after she did—at one o’clock in the morning—she’d try to leave her condo or would fall attempting to go to the bathroom.
Horsman, a full-time caregiver, had to go to work every morning. She was exhausted and occasionally angry. “I’m in my 60s,” she says. “I’m not young any more and that was part of the problem.”
So she signed up for Caring.com’s weekly Steps & Stages custom care guide by typing in a few details about the progress of her mother’s dementia on the site. Within days she got a newsletter filled with useful tips such as how to get a person with dementia to shower, to foods that are easier to eat.
More importantly, Caring.com connected Horsman with others at the same stage of caregiving.
One online poster suggested she put a commode by her mom’s bedside so she didn’t have to go far to relieve herself at night. Another advised getting a door alarm. “Even if no one really had a good solution, I felt that someone understood what was happening and they empathized,” Horsman says.
Although Caring.com has information on all kinds of care, some 65 percent of its site visitors are caring for people who have Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. “We like to say that we’re giving people low-beam headlights so they can see what’s ahead and get ready for it,” says Andy Cohen, president, CEO and co-founder of Caring.com.
Cohen knows what it’s like to be peddling frantically. His involvement with caregiving started with a phone call in 2006.
His mom had lung cancer. Suddenly the mother who had nurtured him was struggling for her life. Since Cohen’s father had died several years earlier, he and his sister Elissa were plunged into the role of long-distance caregivers.
“My mom was in Chicago and I was in Silicon Valley,” says Cohen. “I spent a lot of the year flying back and forth trying to help my mom fight the cancer.”
Then, he and his sister had to figure out how to ensure their mother was comfortable in her own home. “We had to get a hospital bed and line up all the resources she needed,” he says. It was “really hard and we made a lot of mistakes.”
After his mother’s death in 2006, he started Caring.com for adult children or spouses acting as caregivers. “I wanted to give those people who were going through what my sister and I went through help to make it a little bit easier,” he says.
The U.S.-based website now attracts 2.5 million readers monthly with targeted tips, as well as advice on making the right financial and legal decisions, choosing products to help with daily living, and reviews of in-home and respite care and assisted living.
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