Community Caregiving Programs
Even without a strong personal network, there are ways for LGBT caregivers to find and create the community support they need.
During the AIDS crisis, many LGBT people came together to care for loved ones—including their neighbors, friends and partners—affected by the disease. We created "communities" of caregivers in which a number of people "shared the care" for one or more people in need.
Now that our community is increasingly facing the challenges of aging—often without the support of families of origin, or from children who typically provide the majority of informal caregiving in the U.S. in the broader population—this model is more important than ever. As a caregiver, you could have a strong network of friends and family that you haven’t yet tapped; if this is the case, read Building Your Support Team for some tips on asking them for help.
If you’re a caregiver going it alone, or you simply need more help than your friends can provide, consider creating a community-based group or caregiving network. In community-based models, individuals join forces to share the caregiving responsibilities and costs for the care recipient, and collaborate to make sure that social, medical, and transporting needs are met. These informal networks of support can ease some of the more common ailments that a single caregiver experiences, such as depression, frustration and overexertion. Especially for LGBT caregivers, this model can build relationships and interdependent networks that cross generational and kinship lines.
One popular model is Share the Care™, created by the nonprofit organization SharetheCaregiving, Inc. The organization’s mission is to help people create and implement communities of caregivers, reducing the stress and responsibilities that often fall on a single caregiver. The organization offers trainings, workshops, events and a book to guide caregivers through the Share the Care program. For more information, visit sharethecare.org.
Your LGBT Community Center or local aging services provider is a good place to start if you need help setting up a community-based caregiving group. See Resources for Caregivers to find a community center or aging provider in your area.
For More Information
LGBT Caring Community Online Support Group. FCA: Family Caregiving Alliance
Find support from other caregivers online: FCA offers a place for LGBT caregivers of adults with chronic health problems to discuss the unique issues of caring for their loved ones.
This documentary follows six LGBT older adults over a year as they navigate informal and paid caregiving options. One story highlights KrysAnne, a transgender woman with terminal cancer who is cut off from her family of origin, and the community caregiving group that supported her in her final days. Visit the site to see if there is a screening in your area, or to order a DVD.