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You Are Not Alone: Connecting with Caregiver Support Groups

September 20, 2022

Two family caregivers supporting one another

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Two family caregivers supporting one another

Let’s face it — caregiving is a lonely endeavor at times. And if you’re suddenly (or even unexpectedly) tasked with caregiving for a friend or family member, the adjustment is often a difficult one. On top of that, there’s no instruction manual that’ll make you a caregiving expert overnight. Any of these experiences, let alone all of them, are enough to leave you as a caregiver needing help and support just to get by.  

AARP recently published an article on finding caregiver support groups, sharing how a good support group can be vital to a caregiver’s journey. According to AARP caregiving expert Barry Jacobs, “Decades of research show that social support helps people cope.” With this in mind, the article explores multiple avenues for finding the right support group for you. 

A variety of support groups available to you

The kinds of accessible support groups a caregiver can join are vast, ranging from groups offered by institutions of faith, medical centers, social service agencies, as well as employers. Many support groups are free and several are now widely available online. Types of support groups you can consider include:

  • Condition-specific groups – these groups are based on the conditions of the people you’re caring for, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer, stroke, mental illness, and ALS. Major disease charities often have chapters near you.
  • Groups led by a trained facilitator – typically led by social workers, psychologists, or clergy, these groups keep discussion from being monopolized and provide educational resources to participants.
  • Caregiver-specific groups – groups here focus on bringing people together based on specific caregiving situations or affinities. Examples include military caregivers, adult children supporting parents, Spanish-speaking caregivers, and child caregivers. 

Overcoming reluctance to join a group

Groups can provide valuable support for caregivers in speaking openly (and anonymously) about their emotions, making friends, and navigating the healthcare system alongside others. But many caregivers are reluctant to seek groups due to common objections. Can you relate to any of these?

For some, talking in front of other people in a group makes them uncomfortable. Yet groups don’t often require members to speak. Just listening to others’ perspectives can provide benefits in knowing you’re not alone. Plus you can learn from others who’ve already experienced what you’re currently facing.

Other caregivers may say they’re too busy to make time to go to a support group. In these cases, support groups can offer simultaneous activities in separate rooms for both caregivers and care recipients. Online support groups also provide convenient access for caregivers at their own schedules. 

Advice for finding a group that works for you

Finding and joining a support group can be an intimidating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. AARP provides multiple tips for getting started, including:

  • Step out of your comfort zone – commit to pushing yourself through your reluctance to join and take the plunge. 
  • Search online for groups – disease organizations and the federal government’s Eldercare Locator provide online tools to find support groups near you. 
  • Keep an open mind – contact a group provider if you have concerns, but don’t dismiss a group just because it’s not a perfect fit. Stick with it. 

At Connected Caregiver, we understand your need for support. That’s why we provide you with daily peace of mind with our reliable, secure senior medical alert and health monitoring system. With our help, you can confidently stay connected to your loved one without disconnecting from your own life.  

To access the full AARP article, CLICK HERE

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