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Finding a Senior Caregiver Support Group

Updated 8/10/15 12:11pm | Family caregivers rely on Alert1 to relieve their concerns about aging loved ones. If you are a family caregiver, you may find yourself dealing with stress that your friends and family cannot relate to. They may try their best to be supportive and understanding, but, unless they have been a caregiver, it is hard to fully comprehend the stress that goes along with balancing your caregiving responsibilities with your work schedule and personal life. One way for caregivers to handle with their stress is to join a caregiver support group. Many senior caregivers find that talking to someone who can empathize with their feelings and relate to their experiences is a powerful coping mechanism. If you could use this kind of support, a caregiver support group might be right for you.

The stresses of caregivers

Many caregivers are encumbered with supporting seniors because of longer life-expectancies and breakthroughs in modern medicine. Long-term caregiving is a relatively new phenomenon that is far too much work for one caregiver to handle. In fact it’s estimated that seventy percent of adults 65 or older will require long-term care from a caregiver. Caregiver responsibilities usually fall on the shoulders of the senior’s partner or oldest child who lives the closest. While Medicare and Medicaid cover the expense of medical treatment, they don’t often pay for assistance with cooking, eating, bathing and dressing. For that reason, many caregivers will continue to be overwhelmed with until there’s a shift in the framework of elder care. How exactly is one supposed to cope with being a long-term caregiver? Alert1 suggests caregivers join a support group to help cope with being a long term caregiver.

 

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Why you should join a support group

Joining a caregiver support group will help you realize that you are not alone in your experiences or feelings. The simple act of having these things validated by people who truly understand where you are coming from may buoy your spirits and make it easier for you to continue caring for your loved one. During your support group, you will be able to share information about caregiving, discuss controversial caregiving topics, and learn new skills from each other. If you are up against an obstacle to your caregiving efforts, one of your fellow support group members may be able to suggest a solution you never even considered. Some support groups even meet to walk or participate insome forms of group exercise to help prevent caregiver burnout. If any of this applies to your life, go and join a caregiver support group now!

Finding the right support group for caregivers

There are many types of caregiver support groups out there and you need to find the one that is right for you. Support groups can vary greatly in content, approach, and quality. To begin with, find out who leads the group. Specifically, you should consider their credentials because the best caregiver support groups are often lead by someone with professional experience. It is also a good idea to join a caregiver support group that has been in existence for a while, so you know it has a reputation for being a worthwhile resource. Some support groups focus specifically on a certain disease or condition, while others are more geared toward discussing the challenges and benefits associated with caregiving in general. The latter type will include members whose older adults have wide variety of medical conditions. A friend of mine is the primary caregiver for her father and she joined a caregiver support group after he suffered a stroke and caregiving became even more stressful. In her search for a support group, she was surprised to find that some groups are very loosely organized. She wanted to join a support group with a clear overall purpose; all group members should be familiar with the goals and structure of the organization. She also looked for a caregiver support group that provided a caring, non-judgmental atmosphere with a good mix of participants.

A caregiver support group just for you

Don’t feel like you have to join the first support group you find. Keep an open mind and try as many groups as it takes until you feel comfortable with the people and environment. Visit the caregiver support group at least three times before you move on or commit. You may find that the support group feels very differently to you after your first or second visit. Not all caregiver support groups meet in person. Online support groups have become a popular option because you can join them from the comfort of your own home and they give you access to a global perspective and resources. Visit Today’s Caregiver (www.caregiver.com) and click on a state to view support groups and other resources in that area.

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Alert1 wants to know: have you or a loved one joined a caregiver support group? How long did it take to find the one that was right for you? In what ways has the group benefitted you?