Care giving, a demanding and often isolating responsibility, can lead to depression, loneliness and fatigue. The family caregiver may feel as though they are the only one experiencing the exhaustion and seclusion that describes the repetition of the daily tasks of care giving. So, when the going gets tough, where can the tough turn?
Support groups are a safe place where caregivers of people with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. can share personal experiences and exchange information. There are groups supporting those who are grieving, or those with specific genetic conditions, and for people with a specific relationship to an affected person, such as a sibling, spouse, or child. Group members who have been through, or who are going through similar circumstances can do more than just sympathize with each other—they can relate to what you are going through and keep you from feeling as though you are alone in the journey of a lifetime; members give and receive both emotional and practical support and learn they can find companionship and friendship throughout the darkest days of giving care.
Some groups are comprised of peers while others may have speakers who provide information about various topics such as home care, VA assistance, how to pay for care, etc. And still others may be facilitated by a professional such as a social worker, psychologist, or geriatric care manager. These professionals have access to tips and resources including:
- Information about medical treatments, research, strategies, and clinical trials
- Information about public policy, legal resources, privacy laws, and protection from discrimination.
- Links to researchers.
- Financial assistance and scholarships.
- Local resources in the community
Frequency of group meetings varies from group to group. How often the group meets is dependent upon the needs of its members and the purpose of the assembly. Groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, have meetings every day, several times a day. Other meetings may meet once a week for a set number of weeks if it is a teaching support group like Diabetes management. The life span of groups such as a caregiver support group depends on the interest of its members.
Support groups assemble anywhere from coffee shops, hospital meeting rooms, churches, temples, or individuals’ homes. People with limited access to transportation or who are home bound may tap into online support groups with a little “Googling” and research on the internet.
To find a support group in your area:
- Ask your doctor or hospital
- Call Associations (Alzheimer’s Association, Juvenile Diabetes Association, Resources for Seniors)
- Contact Guiding Lights Care Giver Support Center, (371-2062) or Raleigh Geriatric Care Management, (803-8025)