Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can present exhausting challenges and take significant toll on a caregiver’s health. But, a support group can give you the assistance and reassurance you need to manage stress and take time for your own much-needed care.
Caregivers take on tremendous responsibilities that can easily overwhelm them. Ongoing guilt, anxiety and sleeplessness can lead to problems with physical health. You may eventually withdraw from friends and social activities and soon find yourself feeling alone, exhausted and depressed.
The National Alliance for Caregiving indicates that more than 65 million Americans care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. Those caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week, often while still managing a full-time job and caring for their family.
Seek Other Caregivers for Support
Finding a support group to share stories with, seek advice from and simply have available to listen to you on a regular basis can help lower your caregiver stress and alleviate the health risks that caregivers face. Plus, support groups have information on community resources for Alzheimer’s education, adult day-care services and other programs that can ease some of your workload.
Here is a list of five caregiver support groups that give assistance and comfort to caregivers trying to balance their many responsibilities. You can also run an online search for caregiver support groups specific to your city or town.
Through its local support groups, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a place to exchange information, talk through challenges and learn about resources in your community. Enter your zip code or search by state to find an Alzheimer’s Association support group near you.
A closed Facebook group, meaning only members have access, Memory People supports people interested in information about Alzheimer’s. The group’s goal is to provide understanding, comfort and a means for sharing experiences. Sign up on Facebook for access to posts or to post your own questions or comments as a caregiver.
Available through the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Eldercare Locator connects caregivers with local support groups, community resources and other services, such as training and counseling, to assist those who care for older loved ones.
Family members caring for a veteran can call the VA Caregiver Support Line if they need someone to talk to, or information about local support services for caregivers of veterans. The VA also facilitates Caregiver Connections, an online forum for connecting with other caregivers and sharing stories.
The FCA sponsors an unmoderated Caregiver Online Group where families, partners and other caregivers can safely discuss their concerns, challenges and rewards of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Support Your Health
Taking time to talk to someone about the ups and downs of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is important to staying healthy and happy as a caregiver. Seek a support group, find time for personal activities you enjoy, socialize, exercise and eat right to ensure you stay healthy for your sake and for the sake of your loved one.
What caregiver support groups do you belong to? How has your support group helped you as a caregiver? Share your story in the comments below.