How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I have been feeling lonely lately, but I am having trouble connecting with people who understand the challenges I am facing. I am interested in joining an online support group, but unsure where to start.

How do I connect with an online caregiver support group?

Laura from Saline, MI

Online Support Groups for Caregivers

Dear Laura,

Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease can be lonely, especially if you don’t have anyone to talk to about your challenges. An online support group can be a great resource to connect with caregivers experiencing similar difficulties.

Here are a few benefits of an online support group:

  • They are available any time of day.
  • You can swap advice with other caregivers.
  • For some, it is more comfortable to confide in an online group than in-person.
  • You have access to a pool of resources.

Connecting with an Online Caregiver Support Group

  1. Find your group

When joining a support group, be selective. Find a group that is friendly, helpful, and engaged. You can use a few methods to find a group:

  • Organizations: Organizations that support your loved one’s condition or situation can be a great way to find a group. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, consult the Alzheimer’s Association. Ask them if they lead any online support groups or if they can refer any to you.
  • Recommendations: Asking for recommendations is another great way to find a group. You can ask friends and family, or any other person you trust.
  • Social media: Social media is another resource for finding groups. Facebook and LinkedIn host groups and allow you to search for them directly on their platform. They will even let you know how many members belong to the group and how many posts were recently shared.
  1. Learn the community

Once you find a group you are interested in, take time to read the community guidelines. On Facebook, the group will often allow you to view the group rules before you request to join.

Before participating, observe the conversations happening in the group. Pay attention to how members interact with one another. Once you feel like you understand their culture and etiquette, you can introduce yourself. Many groups have a thread dedicated to new member introductions.

  1. Start engaging

Once you’ve introduced yourself and have a good understanding of the culture, you can join conversations. Remember that online relationships work the same way as in-person relationships. It’s great to ask questions, but also offer support from your own experiences when you can.

Finding Emotional Support Through Online Groups

Regardless of what group you join, participating in a caregiver support group can provide you with the emotional support you need to complete your duties and be there for your loved one.

I hope this helps you find and connect with an online caregiver support group!




Heritage Senior Communities

Many of our senior communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living community, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us today to learn more about our memory care programs.

Understanding the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

Watching a loved one move through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease is never easy. Sadness, anger, and frustration are just a few emotions caregivers experience. Knowing what to expect can help alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding your loved one’s diagnosis. Here is an overview of the seven stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Stage One: No Clinical Impairment. A person with Alzheimer’s won’t experience any symptoms during the first stage of the disease. They won’t notice any memory impairment or cognitive decline. Only a sensitive imaging technology scan will be able to reveal they have the disease.
  • Stage Two: Very Mild Cognitive Decline. During the second stage, your loved one may begin to experience occasional forgetfulness. They may lose things around the house or misplace their keys more often. Symptoms are barely detectable and often dismissed as normal, age-related changes.
  • Stage Three: Mild Cognitive Decline. People with Alzheimer’s disease will continue to experience increased forgetfulness throughout the third stage of the disease. Close friends and family usually notice changes around this time. Your loved one may have a harder time concentrating and focusing on basic tasks. Finding the right words during a conversation and remembering the name of someone they just met may also become increasingly difficult.
  • Stage Four: Moderate Cognitive Decline. Stage four is often called early-stage dementia. The symptoms of your loved one’s disease will become apparent, and their short-term memory will continue to decline. They may have trouble remembering recent events, lose the ability to concentrate, struggle to solve problems, and have a hard time managing their finances. It’s not uncommon for people to lose the ability to drive safely during this stage.
  • Stage Five: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline. Your loved one may struggle to perform day-to-day activities during stage five. For example, they may have a hard time dressing appropriately or remembering information like their address or phone number. They may also ask the same question repeatedly. Do your best to stay patient and remain empathetic of their condition.
  • Stage Six: Severe Cognitive Decline. During the sixth stage, a person with dementia may struggle to remember recent events. They may even forget close friends’ and family members’ names. It’s not uncommon for personality changes to occur, along with increased anxiety and agitation. Your loved one will require supervision and a fair amount of assistance with day-to-day activities.
  • Stage Seven: Very Severe Cognitive Decline. Stage seven, commonly referred to as late dementia, is the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. When your loved one reaches this stage, they will lose their ability to communicate and struggle to respond to their environment. They may even lose their ability to swallow. Because of the extent of their disease, they will require around-the-clock care.

Alzheimer’s Progresses Differently for Everyone

Everyone experiences Alzheimer’s disease differently, but the symptoms follow a similar path. Learning this path can help family caregivers track the course of the disease and prepare for upcoming challenges.

Heritage Provides Specialized Dementia Care

Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care in Michigan. Our experienced staff members know how to navigate the different stages of Alzheimer’s and understand the unique challenges that arise as the disease progresses. Contact us today to learn more about our specialized dementia care or to schedule a tour of one of our communities near you.

5 Sunscreen Tips for Older Adults

5 Sunscreen Tips for Older Adults

With age, many changes happen to the skin. Not only does your skin produce less collagen and become drier, but it also becomes more sensitive. Because your immune system also weakens over time, your skin has an increasingly difficult time repairing sun damage. Wearing sunscreen can be an excellent way for seniors to protect themselves from harmful UV rays and prevent skin conditions like premature aging and skin cancer.

Sunscreen is most effective when you use it properly. Here are a few tips for seniors who want to get the most out of their sunscreen.

5 Tips for Using Sunscreens

  1. Choose a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection: The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging, while UVB rays cause sunburn. Both damage the skin. Choosing a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label will protect your skin against both types of UV rays.
  2. Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher: SPF stands for skin protection factor, and the number indicates how long it will take before the sun burns the skin. The American Cancer Society recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect against UVB rays.
  3. Apply sunscreen generously and periodically: Older adults should apply a generous amount of sunscreen before they go outside, even if they only plan to be out for a few minutes. Cover every exposed area, including your face, ears, and hands. As a general rule, reapply sunscreen every two hours, more if you are in the water or sweating.
  4. Look for a water-resistant sunscreen: When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that is water-resistant. Even if you don’t plan to be in the water, it also keeps you protected if you sweat.
  5. Pick a cream formula: There are a lot of options when it comes to sunscreen. You can pick sticks, lotions, and sprays. It’s often best to use a cream-based formula as opposed to a spray. Although sprays may be easier to apply, they may not cover as evenly as a cream-based product.

Don’t Rely Solely on Sunscreen

In addition to sunscreen, seniors should use other best practices to protect their skin. This includes wearing protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats. Try to avoid spending time in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest. By using a combination of sun protection measures, seniors can reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.

Heritage Senior Communities

If you are concerned about your ability to protect yourself from the sun, consider moving to an assisted living community where safety is a priority. Heritage Senior Communities offers an assortment of indoor and outdoor activities during the summer. Seniors who want to avoid the sun can stay engaged by only participating in indoor activities. Contact us today to learn about how we help seniors stay healthy and engaged.

Decoding Senior Living Lingo

Decoding Senior Living Lingo

Dear Donna,

I am helping my parents explore their senior living options. I keep coming across terminology I have never heard before.

Can you help me decode senior living lingo?



Understanding Senior Living Lingo

Dear Tina,

Senior living is a new topic for most families, so it’s understandable that many become overwhelmed when they start exploring their options. On top of that, the industry is complicated and full of jargon. Here are a few common terms you may come across during your search for senior living:

  • Activities of daily living (ADLs): The everyday self-care tasks a person must be able to complete to remain independent. These tasks commonly include feeding, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and moving from one place to another.
  • Adult day care: A program for adults who need supervision or support during the day.
  • Aging in place: When a person chooses to live in their home as they age.
  • Assisted living: A community that provides seniors with the support they need to perform necessary daily tasks while maintaining as much independence as possible.
  • Continuum of care: The variety of senior care options available at a community. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, offers independent living, licensed assisted living, specialized dementia care, and respite care.
  • Convalescent home: A home that provides short-term care and recovery to patients after major surgery or long-term illness.
  • Home care: Nonmedical assistance provided to seniors in their home. Services typically include those that enable the senior to live on their own.
  • Home health care: Health care services given at the senior’s home to help them recover from an illness or injury. Services may include wound care, patient and caregiver education, or monitoring a health condition.
  • Hospice: A type of care that occurs at the end of a person’s life. It focuses on improving their comfort and quality of life as opposed to trying to cure them.
  • Independent living: A senior living option that allows seniors to maintain their independence without the responsibilities that come with owning a home.
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs): The activities necessary for fundamental living, but not necessary to live independently. They include tasks like managing finances and transportation.
  • Long-term care: Medical or support services provided to seniors who have lost some or all of their ability to function. It usually refers to nursing home care.
  • Nursing home: A temporary place to stay that provides 24-hour nursing care for residents with chronic conditions.
  • Occupational therapy: A type of therapy that helps seniors relearn activities of daily living.
  • Palliative care: A type of care that specializes in relieving pain and chronic suffering for patients. Similar to hospice care, palliative care focuses on improving the senior’s overall quality of life. The main difference is that palliative care can begin at diagnosis, while hospice care only begins when it’s clear that the illness is life-limiting.
  • Physical therapy: A type of therapy that introduces specific exercises to improve physical mobility, strength, and overall functioning. It is usually provided after a fall, stroke, or other accident.
  • Sandwich generation: Adult children who care for both their aging parents and their own children.
  • Senior apartments: Housing units for independent adults who meet a minimum age requirement.
  • Senior Move Manager: Professionals that specialize in helping seniors relocate.
  • Respite care: Care that temporarily relieves a primary caregiver from their caregiving responsibilities. This type of care may be provided in the senior’s home or during a short stay in a senior living community. Respite care may last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on individual need.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about senior living. Hopefully, this gives you a good start!



Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, offers support to seniors and their families exploring senior living options. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.