A great way to stay connected as a caregiver is through support groups. Support groups offer many benefits, including: reduced isolation, sharing of feelings, and a sense of community. It can be helpful to share successes and challenging situations with others who are going through similar experiences.
A support group may consist of 5-15 people, who all share something in common. Support groups are typically held in person, and last about 30 minutes to an hour. A trained professional will generally lead the group discussing specific topics during each session. Occasionally, the groups will have guest speakers, related to the groups’ needs that arise.
Many family caregivers find support groups useful for:
– Sharing challenges and potential solutions
– Discovering community resources
– Talking about feelings, concerns, and difficult situations
– Learning what to expect in the future
– Meeting other community members going through similar experiences
Finding a local support group can be easy. Local hospitals or your primary care doctor are a great place to start. In addition, local disease specific organizations typically host support groups related to the specific disease. Your local area agency on aging may also have a list of meeting times for local groups. You could also do a simple google search including the kind of support group you are looking for, in addition to your zip code.
Some support groups may offer care for your loved one, while you attend a group session. However, if it is difficult for you to get out of your home, support groups can also be found online. A great place to start is through social media outlets such as Facebook. On Facebook, there are many private groups made by caregivers, for caregivers. The groups are designed to be used when you have free time. Caregivers often have little time for themselves, so Facebook groups are great when you only have a few extra minutes waiting for the doctor, in the morning before work, or on your lunch break. Groups are closed and private, so posts can only be viewed by other approved members. On these pages, you can find caregivers seeking advice, giving advice, and just simply sharing experiences.
If you do not use social media outlets, try going directly to a disease specific organization. Many times they offer virtual support groups, or online forums for caregivers to support each other.
Often, caregivers are hesitant about joining a group, because they are afraid of speaking in front of other people, or afraid others may not be going through a similar situation, and cannot relate. Remember, it is ok to not share in your first session. However, you might just be surprised by what you will learn and how helpful it is to hear about other’s experiences, as well as share your own.
Some examples of support groups to look for include:
– Caring for loved ones with dementia
– Working family caregivers
– Sandwich generation caregivers
– Caring for a person with Parkinson’s disease
– Caregivers in San Diego
To find a local support group:
For more information on joining a Facebook Support Group: