I’ve been the primary caregiver for my dad for over 3 years. He has Alzheimer’s disease and moved in with my husband and I. His forgetfulness made it unsafe for him to live alone. He was neglecting to take his heart disease medication and was beginning to wander from home and become lost.
While I am retired and fortunate not to have to work outside the home, some days I struggle to keep up with my dad. He doesn’t sleep much, so I have trouble keeping an eye on him.
My friend suggested I look for an Alzheimer’s caregiver group to join. In all honesty, I think it’s just one more thing to fit into my schedule.
In your experience, what are the benefits of joining a caregiver support group? Is it worth the time it takes to attend?
Barb in Saginaw, MI
Why Join a Caregiver Support Group?
What a great question! I’m sure other family members wonder the same thing. While it might initially seem like more work, there are important benefits of joining a caregiver support group:
- Validate your feelings: Family caregivers experience a range of emotions. It’s sad watching a loved one’s decline. You may fear you aren’t doing a good job. Then there is the unspoken emotion: guilt. Caregiving for a family member often means sacrificing your personal time. It can make even the best-intentioned caregiver a little resentful. When you talk with fellow caregivers, you’ll quickly discover these feelings are normal.
- Share ideas: Being part of a support group gives you access to others who’ve likely experienced similar struggles. They can offer tips for how to prevent wandering or what to do when a loved one won’t eat. You can learn what’s worked for other caregivers so you have new ideas to try.
- Vent frustrations: Let’s face it, caregiving can be emotional. Families often disagree about how to handle vital issues. It’s especially tough when loved ones have strong opinions on how things should be done but aren’t willing to help. A caregiver support group provides a place to vent your anger and frustration.
- Feel connected: Family caregivers often feel isolated and lonely. This is especially true if the elder has Alzheimer’s and isn’t safe staying alone. Commiserating and laughing over common struggles with people who relate can help you feel less alone.
Online Support Groups for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
Because the challenges Alzheimer’s caregivers face are so unique, it might be easier to connect with an online support group. ALZConnected is one that is hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association.
I hope this helps, Barb! I wish you the best of luck caregiving for your dad.
Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities
Heritage Senior Communities has been caring for adults with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia since 1946. Our family-owned company is dedicated to helping people with dementia enjoy their best quality of life, despite the disease. Call the Heritage community closest to you to learn more!