An article on the Wall Street Journal:
Click here to view as a PDF
Article by Elizabeth O’Brien
From: Page 2 of the article:
A disparate group of friends can also cohere into a powerful caregiving unit in times of need, said Sheila Warnock, founder and president of the New York City-based nonprofit organization ShareTheCaregiving and co-author of the book, “Share the Care: How to organize a group to care for someone who is seriously ill.” Years ago, Warnock, then an advertising creative director, and a friend formed a group to care for a sick mutual friend, a divorced woman with two teenage children and a serious cancer diagnosis.
The caregiving group of 12 members came from all aspects of the friend’s life, and most were strangers to one another at the beginning. Not all were close friends of the sick woman. Yet they organized into a unit that took care of their mutual friend for 3½ years, until her death, using a system of rotating “captains” that allowed everyone to contribute in different roles—going to medical appointments, cooking, cleaning, and even organizing a daughter’s wedding—without any one caregiver feeling overwhelmed.
Warnock has some advice for those who live alone and prize their independence, a group whose ranks are growing. Today, a record 27% of U.S. households are compromised of just one person, including those of nearly 12 million Americans 65 and over, according to the Census Bureau, up from nearly 10 million in 2000.
One reason why caregiving can feel overwhelming, both for the giver and the receiver, is because as a society we don’t often experience it until the need becomes overpowering, Warnock said. “Back in the pioneer days, if you didn’t have your neighbors, you wouldn’t survive,” she said. “These days, you walk down the street and everyone has their face in an iPhone.”
So make like a pioneer and practice giving and receiving help, Warnock advised. Go shopping for an elderly neighbor. Ask friends to come paint your apartment. That way, it won’t feel so foreign when you’re in a position to really need the help—or to give it.
Time spent cultivating your network is one of the best investments you can make. A diverse portfolio will give you something to live on in retirement, but friends will give you something to live for.