Should You Attend a Caregiver Support Group, Finding New Friends and Resources
Posted Apr 09 2009 7:13pm
I have to admit that I didn’t attend a caregiver support group while I was caring for my mom.
I started full time caregiving back in 1998 and honestly, I didn’t even know caregiving support groups existed, and by the time I did, Iwas feeling so overwhlmed that if I had the opportunity to dress and leave the house (and leave my mother), I had decided that it wasn’t going to be to go and talk about my mother! Yeah, I’m stubborn.
It’s not that I didn’t need a support group. I’m sure my friends were sick of my griping and whining.
But honestly, what little energy and thought I had were used to continue to parent my children. In addition to my mom’s meds, physical therapy, and every day needs, I also had to think about SAT prep, teaching my youngest how to drive, helping another study for a big test, making sure they attended a youth group–and my spare time was spent driving them or making sure they got to their activities. And that’s the way it should be–that’s what being a sandwich generation parent is all about.
But now I know now that it would have benefited me greatly to attend a workshop, conference or support group–at least a couple of times a year.
Caregiver Support Groups Help By:
Giving you a safe place to vent
To know you’re not alone
To find out about your community’s resources
To make short and long term plans
Helping you understand what part of the journey you’re on
To give you validation and permission to feel all that you’re feeling
So yes, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do a bit of Internet browsing and find out what’s available for you–almost every city and county offers something–an Alzheimer’s Association meeting, an American Heart Association gathering, stroke group meeting or a hospice based workshop.
I know you might not have fully accepted your role, your “name tag” as caregiver. That’s a big step.
That means you’re at the top of a really big hill–and we all know where it’s headed. But I promise you’ll feel more relief in attending than you think.
Don’t Just Attend a Support Group–Also Consider:
Talking to someone while you’re there and even exchanging email addresses or phone numbers
Ask a question–chances are if you don’t know the answer, others don’t know it either–and would really appreciate your candor
Get info, lots of info–and follow up, make some calls or check out various groups on the web
Many home health organizations attend these workshops–you could find some great resources, so look around
Begin to take pride in your caregiver’s “badge of honor.” Get educated. Help others. Be okay that this is who you are and where you are–for now.
One last thing-
I hope you’ll step outside your comfort zone and sign up for yoga, take a computer course at the community college, get Rosetta Stone and learn a language.
I know, you’re exhausted. Overwhelmed. Too numb to live your pinky finger.
Don’t let caregiving shut your personal growth completely down. It doesn’t have to.
Carve out an hour a week for a class. Carve out 15 minutes a day to learn to knit or practice your Spanish verbs.
Learning and moving is absolutely vital to your body–and soul.
It even makes you a better caregiver.
Go on, type in caregiver support group, and the name of your city or area.
Find out what’s available.
Finding new friends and resources is a good a thing.