Being a family caregiver for a senior loved one is an important responsibility, and many feel like they have to handle everything on their own. However, you should know that you’re not alone, and it’s OK to ask for help.
Many resources are available to caregivers, including support groups that can be a lifeline for sharing feelings and making friends who understand the challenges you’re facing. Let’s take a look at these important resources and how you can find one in your area.
How to Find a Senior Caregiver Support Group
Support groups provide a place to confidentially share how you feel, get help with navigating healthcare challenges, learn from others, and share ideas. These groups help people cope with complex feelings about their responsibilities and provide the opportunity to openly share with some anonymity.
The idea of finding the right senior caregiver support group may seem like a challenge. Where do you begin? How do you find one that’s right for you? And once you get there, will you feel comfortable enough to talk?
The truth is, once you’ve found a group where you feel comfortable, simply being present and listening to others can be beneficial. Let’s explore how you can find a support group that feels like a good fit for you.
1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Often, support groups aren’t utilized enough. Why? Many people hesitate to attend support groups because they feel self-conscious about speaking in public, especially when it comes to sharing their emotions about the loved one they’re caring for.
However, it’s important to step through this resistance in order to reap the benefits of these groups. Don’t underestimate the relief that will come once you’ve shared how you’re feeling with others in the same position as you.
2. Consider the Type of Group Format
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a support group format. For example, some people feel at ease talking in front of a group while others become anxious. That’s why there are different types of groups available.
You may prefer a specific type of approach over another, so it’s important to take this into consideration when you’re looking for a support group. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend trial periods with different groups to find the format that best suits you.
And don’t discount online senior caregiver support groups! They provide schedule flexibility and can be a real lifeline to people who don’t live near any in-person support group meetings.
You may be a person who expresses your feelings better through writing, or you may prefer face-to-face social interaction and hugs from friends. Caregiving can sometimes be a socially isolating experience, so it’s important to understand your own needs when it comes to finding the right support group.
3. Have an Open Mind
Don’t dismiss a support group in your area because it’s not specifically targeted to you and your unique situation. If you have any concerns or questions about the group, call first to find out more.
Many caregivers are dealing with similar challenges when it comes to finances, emotional stress, and healthcare, meaning that the group will most likely still be helpful to you. The most important thing is to find a welcoming, comfortable space where you can openly share your feelings and stories with others who can relate and won’t judge.
4. Determine Which Type of Group You Want to Attend
Several different styles of support groups are available, including those organized by faith institutions, healthcare centers, organizations focused on specific diseases, and many others.
Some of the most popular types of groups include:
- Disease-specific groups: These support groups are designed for people caring for loved ones with specific illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, stroke, and more. Groups focused on specific conditions provide tailored support and resources.
- Online groups: For those who can’t travel to a meeting (or prefer not to) or would like to talk to others outside of set meeting times, online support groups provide many of the same benefits as in-person groups.
- Groups for specific types of caregivers: These groups bring together specific types of people who serve in a caregiving role, such as veterans, millennials, or LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Educational groups: For those worried about the potential stigma implied by the term “support group,” educational groups feature invited speakers who address topics like stress management and other relevant topics in providing ongoing care to a loved one. Discussions often occur after the presentation, enabling attendees to still receive support.
How to Overcome Hesitation About Attending Support Groups
Maybe you feel like you don’t need a support group. Although this may be true at a particular point in time, the reality is that you may be required to provide care for a senior loved one for years. During this ongoing experience, you must take care of your long-term health and well-being, too.
Caregiving support groups provide sustaining support and ideas that are beneficial for years to come. Remember, you aren’t required to pour your heart out when you attend. Simply being there and listening to others’ approaches to care and stories can be beneficial and give you new ideas for managing your own caregiving situation.
A common concern about attending a support group is how the meeting could possibly fit into an already full schedule each day, caring for your loved one. Good news: Many support groups are aware of busy schedules like yours and provide simultaneous groups or activities for the caregiver and care recipient in different rooms.
Caregiver Support Groups by State
You can find support in various settings via different group meetings tailored to specific types of caregivers, diseases, and more. Below, you’ll find a sampling of support groups serving several states where Cedarhurst Senior Living communities are located—and beyond.
- University of Kansas Medical Center Landon Center on Aging
Is It Time to Seek Help?
Between full-time caregiving responsibilities and personal and professional obligations, you’re juggling a lot. If you’re struggling to keep up with all of these demands, you may be feeling exhausted and potentially close to burnout.
An additional senior caregiver support option you may not have considered is senior living. Senior living communities provide excellent support and comfort to both residents and their family members, easing the stress in the relationship between the care recipient and their loved ones while providing around-the-clock support from trained staff members.
Senior living communities have several benefits, including healthy and delicious food options, physical fitness centers, and more. Plus, a top benefit of senior living is the opportunity for increased socialization because these communities are designed with socialization in mind. Between engaging amenities, shared dining spaces, and special events, residents have plenty of opportunities to meet new friends with similar interests.
Is it time to get help for you or your loved one? Take our 4-minute assessment to get more detail on the right direction for you.Take the Assessment
Talking to a Loved One About Senior Living
Starting a conversation about senior living with your loved one can feel difficult. There are plenty of benefits of senior living communities, including enhanced quality of life and the ability to pursue the lifestyle residents want, but bringing up the topic may still feel awkward or uncomfortable.
We’re here to support and guide you through this discussion with our free, comprehensive resource, Having the Conversation: Talking to a Parent About Senior Living.