Savvy Pro-active Caregivers Manage Crises Online Using Caring from a Distance Web Tools

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Ready access to timely information is critical when moving from reactive to proactive caregiving. Tools needed include: access to personal health records (PHRs) on-line; certified eldercare specialists to respond to questions; private chat rooms; and 24/7conference-call capability. Caring from a Distance (CFAD) is a web-based resource combining all these features, plus access to searchable local service directories containing enriched aging and disability content. CFAD helps caregivers coping with emergencies to accurately share vital data quickly. The website, designed for the novice, offers the savvy caregiver time-saving paths to organized information and problem-solving solutions. CFAD's target audience are among the most stressed of the nation's caregiving cohort. Distance caregivers face great obstacles identifying, communicating and efficiently navigating the nation's uneven, patchy, complex and cumbersome Eldercare information highway. To meet their challenges, CFAD has upgraded its toolkit.

Experienced distance caregivers count on proactive measures to balance work, family and caring-from-afar responsibilities

Caring from a Distance (CFAD), the nation's first non-profit dedicated to long distance caregivers, announces an update of its comprehensive website http://www.cfad.org. Improved features include an expanded list of on-line searchable databases, and a new fully-encrypted format to organize and access personal healthcare and medical information on-line.

In March, 2008, CFAD was cited by CNN's Health Reporter Elizabeth Cohen among ''Great Websites when Aging Parents Need Help.'' (http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/03/20/ep.family.care/index.html) Its Service Directories, Glossary, Library and Links pages continue to direct visitors to specific information critical for rapid decision-making.

The site's revamped Family Records section, powered by CFAD's technology partner Trilogy Integrated Resources, provides a private place where plan-ahead diligence pays off. On a fully-encrypted VeriSign server, like those used in online banking, family caregivers can work together with care recipients to organize and store medical and heath-related information, known as personal health records or PHR's, in one convenient location. CFAD does not share this data with third parties. Unlike paper records, access to such information is available whenever and wherever it is needed.

PHR's are useful for managing chronic conditions like diabetes, or an easy way to track multiple health histories. In crisis, vital data can be swiftly shared with physicians, healthcare practitioners, administrators of senior care or residential facilities, family, trusted caregivers, or friends. The individual registrant decides what records to share, with whom, and for how long. Medical history, provider contact lists, medications, hospitalizations, tests, treatments, and therapies are accessed upon login. The Legal Document folder can include copies of a healthcare power of attorney, advance medical directives, or even a will. The Insurance folder can hold information on policies and types of coverage.

"Experienced distance caregivers count on proactive measures to balance work, family and caring-from-afar responsibilities," says Nora Jean Levin, CFAD's Executive Director. ''Our job is to provide finger-tip access to information so they can function better in emergencies. While we're here to listen, help and offer reassurance, we advise caregivers to prepare for the unexpected and begin the process of entering critical information on-line. Print out the results, share hard copies with those who need to know, and they've got 'Plan A.' The good news is that doing this upfront allows on-line access. We call that 'Plan B'.''

About Caring from a Distance (CFAD)

Formed in 2002, CFAD is a not-for-profit organization based in Washington D.C. Founded, funded and staffed by caregivers, its mission is to help long distance caregivers make well-informed timely medical and social decisions that can maximize the well-being of those they care for by connecting website visitors directly to a broad spectrum of detailed information and resources. CFAD's Metro D.C. model includes web-based application for local database searches, family-to-expert blogs, critical medical information storage and professional articles. The path-breaking Metro-DC database includes information on over 2600 local government, non-profit and for-profit programs.

CFAD is supported by foundation grants, on-line donations and many individuals. USA.gov, the U.S. government's official web portal, links direct to Caring from a Distance as a reliable information and service resource for long distance caregivers. http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Health/caregivers.shtml#vgn-long-distance-caregiving-vgn

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