Benefits of a Caregiver Support Group When Caring for a Loved One with Dementia

Benefits of a caregiver support group

As a caregiver for a loved one with dementia, it’s likely that you have a lot on your plate, from managing medications to dealing with sundowners syndrome. Although caring for a loved one with long-term memory loss is both rewarding and difficult, the extra responsibilities, added to a life that is already full of them, can create dramatically higher levels of stress for caregivers. And more often than not, caregivers often sacrifice their own health and well-being to care for their loved ones.

That’s where caregiver support groups come in. Here are four benefits of joining a caregiver support group:

1. Caregiver support groups can improve your overall health and well-being, as well as the person you care for. . Studies show that caregiving takes a heavy toll on caregivers’ mental and physical health and that the health of the person with dementia you care for is directly related to your health.

2. Caregiver support groups prevent isolation. Caring for a loved-one with dementia is a full-time, around-the-clock job. As a result, caregivers can become socially isolated. Caregiver support groups bring individual caregivers together to talk about their experiences and feelings. It allows caregivers to share stories of caregiving success and failures. But you don’t have to be the one doing the talking to benefit. Just listening to other people’s stories and perspectives can help you realize that what you’re going through is normal and that you’re not the only one with these feelings-positive or negative.

3. Caregiver support groups help you understand what to expect. They not only offer social and emotional support, but they are also a great place to learn factual information about the dementia disease process. They can help you plug into other caregiving resources as well.

4. Caregiver support groups can decrease depression. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount if education regarding dementia and being a caregiver, a person has had, and the emotional state of the caregiver. In addition, knowing that others are going through the same thing you are can help ward off a bad case of the blues.

How to Find a Caregiver Support Group

There are a variety of in-person support groups, message boards, and online communities that offer support every step of the way.

If you’re looking for a local group, call your hospital or community center, which often has a list of local support groups, or your local Area Agency on Aging. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers peer- or professionally led groups for caregivers throughout the U.S.

In addition to in-person support groups, the Alzheimer's Association hosts a free online community/message board for everyone affected by Alzheimer's or another dementia, where individuals living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, family members, and friends can ask questions, get advice, and find support.

Online support groups are great for busy caregivers who are looking for support from the comfort of their own homes at times of greater convenience to them. And research shows that online groups provide the same positive effects as in-person groups when it comes to emotional support and validation.

And if you can’t find anything you like, form your own support network. There are many people and resources out there. Only you know what you need and want. Talk with others about what’s been helpful for them, but ultimately, what you need is personal to you.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can pose many challenges for families and caregivers. Having a good support network you can turn to for advice and encouragement when you feel alone, overwhelmed, or even frustrated can ensure that even on the toughest of days, you have the support you need to support your loved one.

Caregiver support groups provide social and emotional support. They also reduce the risk of isolation and offer a safe place to discuss difficult emotions. Surrounded by others in the same position, caregiver support groups allow you to share caregiving tips and pick some up from others.

For more resources for caregivers, self-care tips, and long-term care considerations, download our Guide to Caring for Someone with Dementia for Family Caregivers.

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