Concordia Visiting Nurses creates site to support, inform caregivers

| Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011

Connie Brennan knows firsthand that, when helping to take care of a loved one -- in this case, her 87-year-old mother, a variety of questions can arise.

"Sometimes, you don't know who to call," says Brennan, 59, of Lower Burrell. Her mother, Becky Moore, lives at the Cabot campus of Concordia Lutheran Ministries.

With the help of Elder Pages Pittsburgh, , a website recently launched by Concordia Visiting Nurses, Brennan and others in her situation will have the answers at their fingertips.

"Now, I don't have to call anybody; I can see it on the website," says Brennan, who visits her mother at the Cabot campus Mondays through Fridays. Moore lives in Concordia's independent-living apartments, and Brennan helps with shopping, bills and appointments.

And that's the idea behind Concordia's Elder Care Pages Pittsburgh, according to Dino Capestrani, director of marketing for Concordia Visiting Nurses -- to provide a variety of information for those caring for an aging loved one.

Among topics it has covered are pets and seniors, maintaining independence and preventing falls.

"Caring for an aging relative can be very stressful," Capestrani says. "You want to help, but you also have your own busy life and commitments. We created this website to provide insight and practical information that can make the family's job much easier."

From a searchable electronic library of articles to private blogs and message boards, the site, as a resource, is an extension of Concordia's outreach to family caregivers.

There also is a section that allows users to send a specific question to Concordia and receive an answer from its administrative and medical professionals within two days.

The site and a subscription to its monthly newsletter are free.

"These are just all good resources to help people out, whether you're a client of ours or not," Capestrani said.

Concordia Visiting Nurses decided to put together the site, Capestrani says, after Concordia's Good Samaritan Hospice sponsored a website for those with serious illness and their loved ones last year. That site, , proved successful.

Concordia's sites include not only information, but also tips that provide support for the caregivers, such as adjusting to their changing role, coping with stress and educating themselves on care.

"As a society, we are deeply indebted to the family caregiver," Capestrani says.

The AARP, according to a statement released by Concordia, estimates that family caregivers spend almost 20 hours each week caring for a loved one and provide $450 billion in unpaid services every year.

"(Concordia Visiting Nurses) decided to create these two sites, because we feel education is the best way to help caregivers, and it's the best way we can offer real value as a home-care and hospice provider," Capestrani says.

"Families need help to do what they do. The irony is, support programs are available, but caregivers don't know where to turn to find out about them. That's where we decided we could make a difference."

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