A Good Support Group is the ‘Ace’ in a Caregiver’s Hand
As a family caregiver, you wear many hats. Aside from the role of spouse or adult child, you've now become a nurse, pharmacist, nutritionist, chef, chauffeur, accountant, personal assistant—and the list goes on.
If you're an adult child maintaining dual households or providing care to a loved one living with memory-impairments, days are more likely to be frustrating than fun. Family caregivers struggle with feelings of isolation, depression, and stress. The overwhelmingness of it all can have you believing you're the only caregiver on earth.
But, you're not alone. In fact, there are 16 million Americans that are providing unpaid care to people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. This number increases when including individuals who are caring for a loved one living with a chronic illness.
Before you experience caregiver burnout, make sure you're taking time for YOU. The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as "a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned."
You may find yourself scouring endlessly on the internet for answers to all your caregiving questions while overlooking a great source of local knowledge—attending a support group meeting.
The thought may sound intimidating at first, but having an outlet, like a good support group, offers friendship and a safe place to share your frustrations, concerns, and victories in confidence—and without judgment. Also, you'll gain different perspectives, better approaches to care, local resources, and healthier coping skills.
Support groups are available in-person, online, or by telephone. Helpful online forums and a support group locator can be found on the following websites: AARP, Caregiver Action Network, Family Caregiver Alliance®, Alzheimer’s Association, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Most monthly meetings are free, but some organizations may require a membership that charges dues. Senior living communities also offer free support groups that provide generalized caregiving information, as well as condition-specific meetings, which focus on Alzheimer's disease and dementia, or Parkinson's disease. Contact us to find out about the Support Groups here or in this area.