6 Reasons to Join a Caregiver Support Group in 2020

As we get ready to wrap up 2019 and celebrate the new year, your thoughts may be turning to New Year’s resolutions. If you’re a caregiver to a senior loved one, especially one who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, one resolution you should consider is joining a caregiver support group – if you aren’t already a part of one.

Caregiving can be a very lonely and isolating situation. Even if you’re constantly surrounded by people at home, at work or anywhere else, you may feel like you’re completely alone and that no one understands what you’re going through. But since more than 34 million Americans are acting as caregivers to a senior adult – and nearly 16 million of them are caring for a senior with dementia – you’re not as alone as you think.

“Many caregivers feel alone because others in their life can’t always understand the sacrifices they’re making, or the day-to-day stressors that build up over time,” says Trish McKay, Executive Director of Bridges® by EPOCH at Trumbull, a memory care assisted living community in Trumbull, CT. “Caregivers can also feel like they have no one to talk to because they feel guilty or like they aren’t taking on enough. These feelings aren’t just misleading; they can actually be detrimental to your health.”

Being constantly stressed and not having any outlet can build and turn into caregiver burnout, says Trish. This syndrome can cause everything from depression to fatigue to physical ailments.

“Caregivers need to find an outlet to share their experiences and not feel judged, which is why caregiver support groups are so important,” she says. “In a caregiver support group, you’ll find yourself surrounded by others who are going through or have gone through the same things you are and understand on a very real level where you’re coming from.”

Here are six reasons why joining a caregiver support group in 2020 may be the best New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made.

1. You’ll have an outlet for social support and interaction. 
One of the primary benefits of a caregiver support group is that they provide a reason to get out of the house and interact with other people besides your loved one. This can be a true gift to yourself, particularly if you feel like your friends and family aren’t supporting you in the way you need. Many people report that they haven’t just found resources and understanding in these types of support groups – they also have made deep, lifelong friendships.

2. You’ll get advice, tips and tricks from others who’ve been through similar situations.

Support groups generally have people from a wide range of situations and who are in different stages of their caregiving journey. This is a great opportunity to talk to others to find out if your experience is “normal” and to get advice from others who may be dealing with – or have dealt with in the past – similar issues or frustrations. You may also find yourself in a situation where you can help another member of the group by sharing your own experiences, too.

3. You’ll be validated – in many ways.

It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone in the world and attending a caregiver support group will certainly show you that you are, indeed, not alone in your situation. You’ll also discover that many of the feelings and experiences you’re having are not unique – there are others who have similar struggles and are doing their best, too. A support group will also allow you to vent your frustrations and share your feelings in a nonjudgmental space, and you’ll feel heard and validated by others who understand your challenges.

4. You’ll enjoy better health.
Stress and burnout are frequent among caregivers, causing mood swings, depression, sleeping issues, weight fluctuations, hypertension, illness and many more issues. Feeling powerless is the primary cause of caregiver stress – and, yet again, support groups can help you gain back a sense of control, acceptance and power over your situation. You’ll find solutions you might never have thought of, plus the support and understanding of caring friends (sharing your feelings and being heard also reduce stress levels). Finally, attending a support group allows you to get out of the house and do something “for yourself,” which has great health benefits.

5. You’ll have access to up-to-date information from professionals. 

Support groups often invite regular speakers to present information about different subjects. Doctors, lawyers, financial professionals, pharmacists, healthcare advocates and others can be valuable resources for your situation. Because you’re in a small-group setting, you will have the attention of the professional and be able to ask questions in a situation where you’re not paying for their time.

6. You’ll find support that will carry you through your hours of greatest need.
There are many challenges you face as a caregiver, particularly to a senior who has dementia. It’s hard to watch your loved one as they lose their abilities and eventually require full-time care. There may come a time when you have to move him or her into a memory care community – and through all these changes, your support group will be there for you to provide support, cheer you on and be shoulders to cry on. They will also be there to help you celebrate the little things, to share in the meaningful moments and help you to remember to laugh and enjoy your time with your loved one.

How to Find a Caregiver Support Group in Your Area

  • Talk to your loved one’s medical professional, or ask at the local community center
  • Connect with your local Area Agency on Aging to learn about various groups available in your community.
  • Connect with senior living communities in your area to learn about various online and in-person resources. Bridges®by EPOCH at Trumbull, for example, holds regular support groups that are open to the community and provide valuable information about dementia and caregiving while also providing an outlet for family caregivers to be heard.

Personalized Lifestyle

Bridges® by EPOCH at Trumbull’s highly specialized, resident-centered Bridges® program is a positive, uplifting approach to memory care and wellness that focuses on a resident’s current skills and abilities, not on those that have been lost to dementia.

Each programming plan is as unique as the resident it serves, requiring all Bridges® team members to take an active interest in getting to know each resident on a personal level. Then, accounting for a particular resident’s preferences, interests, needs and abilities, we customize the most efficient blend of expert-recommended care, exercises, activities and communication techniques in order to connect with the individual, encourage their involvement in daily life and create happy, meaningful moments.

Intimate Environment

Bridges® by EPOCH at Trumbull features four distinct households, each with its own spacious common areas, along with 14 private and two companion suites. Suites feature private bathrooms and walk-in showers.

Each household has a home-like look and feel, creating an atmosphere of warmth, security and comfort for our residents and their families. While furnishings are provided, we encourage families to furnish their loved ones’ suites with favorite possessions from home to help them feel at home.

Featuring stunning residential design that complements the surrounding community, every inch of the interior is designed to benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss. Attributes such as soft colors, directional cues, aromatherapy and interactive life stations create a soothing and secure environment where residents feel comfortable and safe.

Contact us today to learn more.

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