Finding out that someone you love has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s can feel like a crushing blow, and that’s just the start of your journey. Over time, you will have to watch your loved one’s personality change as they slowly lose themselves to the disease. It can be frightening, frustrating, and overwhelming to suddenly find yourself in the position of caring for someone, especially for a parent who has always been a caregiver to you! As the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia continues to grow (the Alzheimer’s Association estimates 5.2 million people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s), more and more support groups are popping up to help family members and loved ones deal with the challenges of being a caregiver.
Who Should Go to a Caregiver Support Group?
Are you unsure as to whether you qualify as a “caregiver”? Don’t be. Most caregiver support groups are open to anyone who has someone in their life with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These groups are here to offer support, guidance, and emotional relief to anyone who needs it. You don’t have to be a primary caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Even if your Mom lives three states away or in a memory care facility, you are still welcome at a support group if you have questions about the disease, want to talk to other families, or simply need to express your worries and fears.
What to Expect at a Caregiver Support Group
Every caregiver support group is different. There is no specific blueprint that all groups follow, like what you might expect at an AA meeting. Instead, the purpose of these groups is to simply provide support and understanding and to let you connect with other people who are in the same boat as you.
Here at Sunshine Care, our free monthly support group includes education about Alzheimer’s and dementia. We place a special focus on how caregivers can care for themselves. We work on improving coping skills and also how to face common challenges in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Our group is also a safe place that allows attendees to share their stories and express their feelings freely. It is okay to feel upset, overwhelmed, scared, and even resentful of the person in your life with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is a place where you can deal with loss and grief among people who understand exactly what you are going through.
Our group also allows you to hear other stories from people in your community who are facing similar struggles. Often, our attendees can learn important lessons from each other. It may be a different perspective on how to view your loved one’s needs or a helpful tip on how to communicate more effectively with your loved one. You may hear from families with loved ones in later stages of the disease or even be able to provide your own perspective and recommendations for caregivers who are just starting their Alzheimer’s and dementia journeys.
How to Find a Caregiver Support Group Near You
If you aren’t sure if a caregiver support group is right for you, we highly encourage you to attend at least one to find out. You may be surprised by how much you learn and how good it feels to connect with other people who are facing the same challenges as you.
In most parts of the country, there is likely to be a support group in your area. We encourage you to seek out support groups specifically for Alzheimer’s and dementia, as these groups are more likely to address issues specific to your experience and to be understanding of your journey. You can use this search feature of the Alzheimer’s Association to find local groups near you. If you feel unsure about attending a meeting in person, then start small by checking out the Alzheimer’s Association Message Boards. Here you can ask questions and read about the experiences of others.
Finally, if you live in San Diego County, Poway, or the 4S Ranch area, we invite you to our free monthly caregiver support meetings. We hope to see you at our next meeting!
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Categories: Memory Care