What are Caregiver Support Groups?
If you are a family caregiver caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you probably have heard somebody recommend support groups to you. If you haven’t already yet found one, we would like to discuss what they are and how they can help. The definition of support groups is in the name, they are groups where you can find support because of the challenges you are facing. More specifically, they are counseling sessions comprised of people in similar situations as you and are often led by a leader who has expertise in the situation you are currently facing. In this blog, we will review how support groups can help you and the different kinds of groups you may encounter as you search for the one that is right for you.
In essence, caregiver support groups help you cope with the difficulties you are facing as a family caregiver. The challenges you confront are not entirely unique to you, yet you bring your own unique experiences to these challenges. For example, many people have difficulty communicating with their loved on in the early- to mid-stages of Alzheimer’s. But approaching this issue depends on your own unique situation and the relationship you have with your loved one. Thus, support groups are times for you to share your experiences, challenges, and solutions with others, while they do the same with you. Hopefully, by the end of each support group session you all walk out different people with fresh perspectives on the situations at hand.
Other functions of support groups include:
- Counseling: The group discussion, facilitated by an experienced leader, is meant to be a therapeutic setting where you can express your feelings, frustrations, and thoughts without judgement. One of the challenges of caregiving is feeling alone, but support groups exist to help you realize that you are not in this all alone. You can develop great relationships with others who can help you along the way. At the same time, you are also meant to learn from one another to become the best caregivers you can be.
- Learn about resources: One of the other best things about support groups is that they are ways to learn about community resources. People who come in with similar problems may have advice on where to go and what to do. Additionally, your group leader should also have valuable knowledge to share on what resources exist for you.
- Condition specific groups: It is also very possible for you to find support groups that offer counseling on the specific condition your loved one has. For example, if your loved one has cancer, it would be inappropriate if you went to an Alzheimer’s support group. Finding the specific group you want to join means searching around online or calling community resources for additional help. One valuable resource you can turn to as a “first step” is your loved one’s doctor’s office. Ask them if they can refer you to any support groups in your area.
If you have any specific questions about support groups or are interested in an Alzheimer’s support group, then please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!