Finding a Caregiver Support Group

Community Support photoCaregiver Support Groups

It’s November, and IF you didn’t know, it’s National Family Caregiver’s Month.  It’s a time when we’re supposed to be celebrating and honoring caregivers.  Sometimes that means that caregivers need to celebrate and honor themselves.  One way that you (caregivers) can do that is to find a support group and attend it regularly.  It’s one of the ways you can actively deal with the sense of isolation and frustration, by finding a safe place where you can share your feelings.  At the same time, you have the opportunity to give and receive advice and support from other caregivers.

Patient support groups have been around for more than twenty years because of initial research that indicated patient outcomes were more positive among cancer patients who were part of a support group.  Those early  results have been discounted by recent research, however, newer studies indicate that patients of all types who attend support groups experience lower levels of distress.  Bottom line: they feel less stressed… and that more relaxed state enables them to simply feel better.  Feeling good can also translate into faster recovery from treatment.

Who Needs Caregiver Support?

So why do caregivers need support groups?  At it’s most basic… it’s important for stress reduction.  Stress reduction is directly related to caregiver well-being.  A high level of well-being enables caregivers to remain strong to care for their loved ones.

Finding a caregiver support group isn’t always easy (though patient support groups are plentiful).  There are support groups for families, which are helpful to caregivers, but these will also include non-caregivers.  The focus in these groups tends to be on the patient and how the patients’ response to their illness and treatment affects the family members.  Good stuff, for sure, but not necessarily focused on the caregiver.

If you’re in an urban or suburban location, the local hospital or the organization which supports your loved one’s disease (American Heart Association, the Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, etc.), is a good place to find a support group.

Blessings, Joanne

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About Joanne

Joanne Reynolds is an award-winning journalist & leading caregiving coach. Her latest book, Search for Light: Ten Crucial Lessons for Caregivers, was created as a result of her experience in caring for five family members, and grew out of her extensive research into issues in family caregiving. She has also created the Blueprint for Caregiving series covering a wide range of caregiving topics. Joanne teaches classes & leads caregiving workshops across the U.S. Her blog can be found at Blue Print for Caregiving.

  • Robbie

    Lonnie Ali says: Build a supportive group of friends, family, medical personnel and spiritual advisors. Most communities have organized Parkinson’s disease support groups that will enable you to connect with other caregivers. If your time is limited, take advantage of online communities that will allow you to connect with others who share similar caregiving issues and challenges.