I love the speed at which information moves online. I've written books that finally get printed, bound, sold, and read, oh, a year or so after I typed the last sentence. Magazine articles require thinking about Christmas ideas around now. Even the newspaper interviews I've done tend to have a few days' lag time before they hit people's driveways.
And then I blog at Caring Currents or file a feature article for [Caring.com] (http://www.caring.com) –- and the commentary pops into my mailbox or in Comments within hours. Or sometimes minutes!
Instantaneous feedback is great, because the whole point of communicating is to pass information or ideas to other people. And then they can talk back to you, or tell someone else – and voila! -- an idea exchange in action. My favorite recent example of this: After I posted about the [12 ways caregivers are driven crazy by their siblings] (http://www.caring.com/blogs/caring-currents/dirty-dozen-12-ways-hands-on-caregivers-are-driven-crazy-by-their-siblings), commenters began to share their own stories, and, in turn, other caregivers responded to their stories. (I also heard from more than a few people who said I made them feel like wayward sibs for not helping enough, which made me feel bad 'til they added that it did have a silver lining of spurring them to want to do more!)(Hey, I wrote it, and it made me feel like a wayward sib, too!)
But you know, that kind of exchange – helping one another -- is exactly what caring for aging relatives is all about. It's somebody saying, "I hear you." It's passing on a brilliant tip that makes it easier to feed someone who has Alzheimer's disease. It's my sister sending all our siblings an article about GM benefits--which affects my dad--from her morning newspaper. It's stumbling on something as unlikely but valuable as a list of [funeral songs] (http://www.caring.com/memorial-and-funeral-songs) and just wanting to let others know you found it, because most of us eventually have to think about it.
Hearing back from you about which information is not-so-hot is a different but equally useful kind of help. Via e-mail, a Caring.com member who'd seen my "junk wars" post about [getting rid of parents' stuff] (http://www.caring.com/blogs/caring-currents/8-ways-to-get-rid-of-aging-parents-stuff-and-your-resentment-over-having-to-deal-with-it) gently reminded me that it may be junk to me, but it's a lifetime of memories to the other person. I think twice about my tone now when the exasperated daughter's snark threatens to slip out. (Or I try, anyway.)
All of which explains why I love a new feature on Caring.com blog posts and articles that makes this info-advice-support exchange even easier and faster. At the end of blog posts and articles, you now see a stripe of buttons that let you give a shout out about something you read to others via e-mail, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Stumble, et. al. It makes it easy to point out and pass along pieces you like to others who might benefit.
And, as always, you can send direct feedback back to us via the "what did you think about this post" buttons or e-mail.
Writers may be sensitive creatures not used to instantaneous help from others -- but that's exactly what caregivers need.