Sometimes, talking to other individuals who are experiencing similar issues is very helpful. Participants can learn from each other, share the emotional and mental burdens of caregiving, and get needed time to process and explore solutions to problems and concerns. Support groups can provide a safe and nurturing environment in which to do these things.
Explore how spending time with others experiencing similar things can help. Consider joining a local support group.
Support groups (in person) are usually initiated by local agencies such as Councils or Departments on Aging, university departments supporting family caregivers, and/or local agencies providing services for seniors. If the support group is based on helping individuals with specific conditions, the sponsoring group may be an organization dedicated to helping individuals with the condition. Some churches offer informal support as well.
Some caregivers feel that they can't attend a support group because they don't feel comfortable leaving their family member with someone else or they have difficulty finding someone to come in during the time of the group meeting or they cannot pay for someone to come in. Call the local support groups in your area and ask if they provide respite or adult day care services for participants. Some do. And, it might be just the relief you need.
There are also online support groups for caregivers whose responsibilities and/or circumstances make it difficult to leave the home.
Another option, developed by the Washington University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center through a grant from the National Institute on Aging, is called the Alzheimer List Homepage. It ..."is the Internet Gateway for the Alzheimer List (AL), an e-mail based support group for family caregivers, persons with memory loss, and the professionals that serve them. Started in 1994, the AL is an open, public forum for communication about dementia care issues. Once subscribed, list users share questions, thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc., by sending e-mails to the AL email address, and these are, in turn, forwarded to all current members and are also saved in an online archive for later review."
If you have trouble locating a support group designed to help with your needs, contact a local aging agency or the local association associated with a specific condition (such as a Diabetes Association). An online search or a local telephone directory will usually find you the contact information you need. Or, use the contact information provided below.
Medical Associations and/or Groups
National Alzheimer's Association Message Board and Chat Room
Toll-Free Numbers for Associations and/or Groups