Family caregivers have a stressful and demanding role. Largely made up of women who work at least part-time and who care for children of their own, the demands on their time are often impossible to manage. While a support group seems like the obvious choice to helping them to better cope, finding the time to attend a meeting may create even more stress. Online caregiver support groups can be a solution.
Why are support groups helpful to caregivers and what sites offer online forums?
The Mayo Clinic tackled the first of these two questions. They found that:
- Sharing feelings with those who are walking their same path is by far the biggest advantage. The moral support and understanding peer groups offer can help relieve guilt, fear and anxiety that often accompany caregiving.
- Online support groups offer the advantage of anonymity. It gives caregivers an outlet for talking honestly about their feelings. If a caregiver is feeling guilty for snapping at a loved one with dementia when they ask the same question over and over and over, they will no doubt find people in the group who have had that experience.
- Online communities allow participants to join in when they can. That is a huge advantage for overwhelmed caregivers. They can jump online at midnight after their loved one has fallen asleep or over lunch at their desk.
How can a caregiver find an online support groups?
There are a variety of organizations that help to connect family caregivers with an online support group that meets their unique needs. Here are just a few to consider:
- Caring.com (www.Caring.com ) this comprehensive site for caregivers combines ratings, reviews, education articles and online support groups.
- Family Caregiver Alliance http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=347 is a part of the National Center on Caregiving. They can match you with an online support group in their network.
- SupportGroups.com (www.SupportGroups.com) is a great place to find a support group devoted to your particular aging or health related need. Topics range from anxiety and depression to cancer.
- AgingCare.com http://www.agingcare.com/Caregiver-Forum this educational site offers support to caregivers ranging from articles to Q&A to online support groups.
If you are Michigan caregiver and you prefer an in-person support group, we invite you to contact the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for more information.