Family caregiver support groups provide information and emotional support to caregivers who are coping with some of the same challenges and concerns. To find out about caregiver support groups in your area, contact the local family caregiver support program in your county or tribe.
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 online and telephone support groups available for those who can't or prefer not to meet in person. Support groups are usually free to attend. 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.