Care Connection – Easing Stress on ALS Families

20160212_ALS_FOUNDATION_PAM_3174.OR & SW Wash Chapter

Families living with ALS are faced with a whole host of everyday challenges that can become a burden over time. The ALS Association created the Care Connection program to provide support to meet families’ needs to ultimately alleviate stress. Learn more about this extraordinary program and all the help it delivers.

ALS affects the entire family. Many persons with ALS face disruption during the “prime of life” which impacts their careers, child-rearing, and social and professional activities. The caregiver of someone with ALS is often a spouse, or other family caregiver. Family caregivers take on this role in addition to existing responsibilities with work and family. As demands on the caregiver increase, daily life may become unmanageable, creating increased stress on the entire family.

It’s easy for people with ALS and their families to become overwhelmed by the wide range of needs they have, from everyday errands to making meals, maintaining their home, getting children to and from school, and so much more. It is difficult to know when and how to ask friends and neighbors for help, and how to organize their availability. And for those who want to offer a helping hand, it is challenging to know just what is needed and how you can make a difference.

In order to alleviate stressors on a caregiver or family member, The ALS Association created the Care Connection program. The Care Connection provides support to the entire family by organizing volunteers from the community – friends, neighbors, members of organizations like your church, or other service groups – to take care of some tasks that may be ‘falling through the cracks.’

The ALS Association has created tools that will help to organize a Care Connection for a person with ALS and their family. Links to online resources, and a step-by-step guide will assist in identifying a Care Connection Coordinator, who uses an online calendar tool to match family needs with volunteers. The program is a ‘win-win’ for both the family and the volunteers, and creates a sense of well-being for all involved.

Jan Obermann, Director of Care Services at The ALS Association Massachusetts Chapter, is a passionate proponent of the program and has witnessed the benefits of the Care Connection in the families that she serves. Jan shared that she recently met a family – an elderly woman with ALS who was extremely active in her community prior to her diagnosis –at the local ALS Clinic whose son had established her Care Connection team and served as her Care Connection Coordinator.

“Her son explained that the family has hot meals brought in daily, numerous volunteers stop in to provide companionship and read to and pray with her. All of the landscaping needs, car repairs, laundry and errands are also met by their Care Connection team. He thanked me for suggesting the program and found the online resources to be most helpful. He also shared that the volunteers are very happy to be able to help in some way.” – Jan Obermann

This is just one example of how valuable the Care Connection program can be for everyone involved.

If interested or in need of additional information, you may also call your local ALS Association Chapter for support. While the chapter does not organize and run the Care Connection, your chapter care services staff are available to highlight chapter and community resources.

Click HERE to find out more about the Care Connection program or to start a Care Connection team.

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