Giving care to another, particularly a loved one, is a wonderful thing to do and can give one a great feeling inside. At the same time…
Being a caregiver can be exhausting, frustrating, overwhelming and confusing at times.
You can feel lonely, helpless and angry.
We know you have only the best interest at heart for the loved ones for whom you care each day but sometimes it just seems so hard.
Being a caregiver is often a thankless job, but one that you probably will not trade for anything.
What do you do when things get hard, with whom will you talk, who do you ask for help and who can you get answers from to help you cope?
Traditional Support Groups
A support group is a place to learn from other members who provide each other with various types of help.
A support group can give you information about a particular disease or treatment; a forum to share your experiences and learn from other people going through the same situation; be a place to receive emotional support and sympathy about what you are feeling; a group of people to establish a social network; and provide you with ideas on how you can cope or find new ways to accomplish daily activities to care for your loved one.
Groups meet regularly often once a month or perhaps more frequently as desired by the group. Meetings are held in a variety of places which include hospitals, local agencies, personal homes, community centers and anywhere where the group has access. Sometimes the activity is personal sharing and support but other times it may be information sharing from experts in the field. The group is generally organized by a professional or advocate who runs the meeting, directs the conversation and arranges for information to be shared but it can be run by a nonprofessional.
Online Support Groups
Now caregivers can connect through the internet and never have to leave home. This form is sometimes referred to as a virtual community.
Using the internet may help you share more personal matters you may not feel comfortable sharing in a group situation face to face. You receive companionship and information as you would in a group setting but do it over the computer. This type of online sharing can be in real time when messages are communicated between individuals connecting at the same time or with a network of bulletin boards or Emails used to communicate with others at different times.
Online communication works well with individuals who are geographically distant but who share a similar cause such as an uncommon ailment or disease. It can be helpful when there is no local group to attend so you can still benefit from the connection.
How to Find a Support Group
Once you decide that you want to find a support group, where do you start?
You can ask your doctor, check the newspaper for a group, contact the organization of your associated disease, check with the local library, contact your state’s family services agency or contact your nearby hospital for a meeting to join.
Take a friend, relative or go yourself and you will be welcomed when you arrive.
Whatever form you choose, the most important thing is to participate.
Some Support Groups to Locate:
Cancer Stroke Parkinson’s Grief Alzheimer’s Mental health Ulcerative colitis Bowel disease Brain trauma
Alcoholics Anonymous Anxiety disorders Suicide prevention Addictions-gambling, drugs, etc. Mood disorder
Books You Might Enjoy
- Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul: Stories to Inspire Caregivers in the Home, the Community and the World
- Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence
- The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent
We hope you will share with us your experiences so that we may all benefit!