Choosing a support group

Choosing a support group

Are you feeling isolated, alone, frustrated, anxious, or just plain sad as you care for your loved one?

Meeting with others who are also facing caregiving challenges can be very helpful. You can share anything, from coping with the emotional demands of your role to handling difficult behaviors. Rather than judgment, you’ll find affirmation in a family caregiver support group. Plus, everything said is kept confidential.

Even if you are shy about talking in a group, just listening may bring a boost. You will learn that you are not alone and might even discover new approaches and coping strategies!

Here are some questions to ponder as you consider various groups:

  • Do you want to be with people who are all dealing with the same condition? There are groups for cancer caregivers, for instance, or Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other diseases.
  • Do you want to be with people in the same life circumstances? For instance, the Well Spouse Association has support groups for people taking care of a life partner. And there are groups just for adult children caring for parents. Or for people who still have children at home.
  • Do you want to meet in person or online? By video conferencing? Telephone? In-person meetings are heartwarming but may not be convenient. Many groups choose to meet online. Some involve posting text or updates and members reply as they have time. Others use video conferencing and meet on an appointed day. Some groups use a telephone format.
  • Do you want an educational focus or a more spontaneous agenda? Some groups have a theme for each meeting. Perhaps there’s a professional coming to talk about dementia strategies. Or someone coming to share information about adult day centers. Other groups follow a more conventional support format where people check in to share their concerns and challenges and get feedback/support from others.

Most groups are free and open to the public. For some, you may need to join the sponsoring organization. Fees are usually low. Even if a group is hosted by a faith community or medical center, don’t assume you have to be members to attend. Contact them to find out.