Why Are Support Groups Important?
You’ve been hit in the gut by the realization that you are now not just a spouse, child, or grandchild, but, now, you are a caregiver. But who can you talk to? Who will understand? The dictionary defines “support” – “to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction”.A support group provides a safe place to share, cry, laugh, and learn. You will learn that you are not alone. There are others going through or have gone through what you are. Members share challenges, offer advice and encouragement, and discuss available resources. Meeting with other caregivers validates your experiences and releases emotions. You will learn you are not the only one who loses their temper and gets frustrated. There is no subject that is taboo - from finding the right protective undergarment to handling behavior problems.
Do you think a support group is not for you? Too shy or introverted? Remember you can benefit simply from listening to other people's stories and perspectives - learning new approaches based on their caregiving situations. You do not have to participate in the discussion – just say you are not ready to talk yet. A good support group leader will not push and give you time to become acclimated.
A support group generally has eight to twenty participants and lasts one to two hours. Meetings can be weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. The atmosphere should be relaxed and every one will be given an opportunity to share, if they want. Some of our Support Groups offer a separate, simultaneous meeting for your loved one. This meeting provides stimulating activities for the individual with Alzheimer’s/dementia.
Support groups give you valuable respite - the chance to be cared for instead of always doing the caregiving. Find a group near you.
Stories from the Heart…
“I have learned so much over the years about Alzheimer’s/Dementia through listening to what all the wonderful people tell about living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia because of their loved ones – and now my husband and I are experiencing what my friends have gone through… They have taught me a lot – our group’s theme is ‘go with the flow’. I have their support… So, I’m blessed.”
Olive B. (Yreka, CA)