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Social Support Systems

It is important that everyone develop and use support systems in their daily life to balance and manage stress and maintain a sense of well-being. It is absolutely essential that caregivers have and use a support system.

The persons, agencies and organizations with which a caregiver has contact – directly or indirectly – are referred to as a person’s social support system. Social support may be provided in the form of:

  • Physical or practical assistance (e.g., transportation, assistance with chores)
  • Resource and information sharing (i.e., information on community resources)
  • Emotional and physiological assistance (i.e., someone who listens to and encourages you)
  • Attitude transmission (i.e., someone who helps you laugh or see things more positively)

The benefits of having and using personal support systems include reduced stress, decreased physical health problems, and improved emotional well-being. Taking stock of your social support system is an excellent way to assess where your help actually comes from and who provides it. Taking stock can also help you see reasons why you don’t ask for or accept assistance, and reasons why people may not offer assistance.

Assess your social support system.

  1. Who are the people and organizations who help you?
    • Spouse
    • Parents
    • Children
    • Other Relatives
    • Friends
    • Other caregivers
    • Doctor(s)
    • Nurse(s)
    • Support group
    • Church members
    • Civic group/clubs
    • Schools
    • Professional agencies
    • Public health
    • Social services
    • Respite care
    • Activity programs
  2. Identify at least one of the above who helps you in each of the following ways:
    1. Provides physical/practical assistance
    2. Provides resources and information
    3. Provides emotional/psychological assistance
    4. Provides a positive outlook/attitude
  3. What are some of the practical reasons you have for not using relatives, friends or neighbors for social support and what are some reasons they might have for not providing support?
  4. What are some beliefs and attitudes others may have that prevent them from offering support to you?
  5. What are some beliefs and attitudes you have that may prevent you from accepting or seeking support from others?
  6. What steps could you take to cope with the barriers (practical as well as attitudes and beliefs) that prevent you from getting the support you need?
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