For family caregivers, knowing what to do to support someone who needs care doesn't always come naturally. Most caregivers could use some support, advice or training now and then. There are a number of different programs and resources that can help family caregivers feel supported and learn ways to care for their loved ones AND themselves.
Many caregivers are hesitant to try a support group. For some people, the idea of sharing personal feelings with a group of strangers seems silly or intimidating.
Support groups are much more than “sharing feelings.” Groups are great for getting insights on how to handle specific issues, such as communicating with a difficult older adult or handling the stress of caregiving. They also a good place for exchanging tips on what community and professional care services have been helpful. Since groups are composed of people who are in similar situations, they are likely to have had similar experiences that you can learn from.
Every support group functions differently. Some support groups have informational speakers for part of group meetings, while others don’t have speakers; some meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly; and most have facilitators who moderate for time or topic discussion, although some are unstructured. Many groups focus on illness-specific issues, involving both caregivers and the people who have the illness. A few groups are only men or only women. There are also a growing number of virtual and telephone support groups available for those who can't or prefer not to meet in person. Many of these groups are listed here. If you try but don’t like one group, don’t give up -- try another group. It may become one of your most important supports in your journey as a caregiver.
You may decide to attend a support group just for you, or you may find one that you and your loved one can attend together. Either way, you both benefit from not dealing with family caregiving concerns alone.
For more information or to find local caregiver support groups, contact your local family caregiver support program.
Following are some caregiving workshops that are available in many areas around the state. There are other kinds of trainings and special events for caregivers that take place locally. To learn more about these and other caregiver education programs or to find out where and when these programs may be happening in your area, contact your local Family Caregiver Support Program.
Memory cafes provide an opportunity for persons with memory loss and their care partners to socialize with other people going through similar journeys. Memory cafes are facilitated by caregiver support staff and/or volunteers who engage participants in games, music, activities, conversation, and creative fun. The experience is intended to benefit both the person with memory loss and their care partner by creating an environment that is safe for people to enjoy time together and form friendships with others who are experiencing similar journeys.
This six-week course is for family caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other disabling conditions. The class helps caregivers build communication skills, lower stress, set goals, make tough decisions, and communicate with family members and medical providers. Participants use relaxation and planning tools while learning to cope with anger and guilt, access community resources, and solve problems. To find a Powerful Tools for Caregivers workshop in your area, visit the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging.
Trualta is an online education platform that is designed for families managing care at home and has a deep library of training modules that provide practical advice on a wide range of topics. Trualta provides the training needed to help you feel more prepared to handle all kinds of care needs such as help with bathing, safety issues, brain health, challenging behavior and caring for your own wellness. It offers a multitude of quality trainings in one convenient place that can be accessed whenever and wherever is easiest for the caregiver. For more information about Trualta you can contact the local family caregiver support program or sign yourself up on the Wisconsin Trualta website.