Being a caregiver is one of the most difficult jobs there is. As a caregiver, you’re faced with unpredictable and ever-changing (and often escalating) challenges. It can be easy to get lost in the overwhelm and loneliness of your situation. Your friends and family often can’t relate to or understand what you’re going through, which only makes things harder. While you may feel alone, we are here to assure you that you aren’t alone. There are millions who stand with you. And if those feelings of isolation, overwhelm, guilt, frustration, or struggle resonate, then you may greatly benefit from a caregiver support group.
What is a Support Group?
A support group is a group of people who are united by a common interest. In the caregiving world, they are usually centered around either the ailment your loved one is battling or the caregiving role in general. These groups may run out of hospitals, online (through virtual meetups), or in community centers. There are thousands of support groups in California and there is likely to be one relevant to you in your area.
What can I expect from a Support Group?
You can expect a group of people who have been or are currently in your shoes. The meetings typically last an hour and are an informal (dress comfortably!) place to chat or just listen to others you can relate to. There’s no obligation to speak in the meeting or to continue attending, so you’re welcome to talk (or just listen in) and to come as often or as infrequently as you’d like.
Here are some reasons to consider joining a support group:
- Advice and Experience. Meetings can often be a “meeting of the minds” to get help or advice from people who’ve been there (on things like treatment plans, insurance or tax questions, or diagnosis information).
- A Non-Judgmental Safe Place. You can expect an uplifting and/or non-judgmental place to share and process your experiences, thoughts, difficult feelings (like guilt), and emotions.
- Community. One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver is explaining your role to people who cannot understand it because they haven’t been in your shoes. Finding a group of people who really understand how you feel and can relate to your experiences is a great reminder that you aren’t alone, no matter how it feels.
This type of community support is necessary for maintaining your mental health as a caregiver. Remember, your health is crucial to the healing and care of your loved one.
Even if you don’t need help, there might be someone out there who could use your advice. Both are fulfilling reasons to join a support group.
How Can I Find a Support Group Near Me?
As we mentioned, there are support groups all over the place, so there is surely one near you.
Here are a few places to consider for finding a local support group:
- Your local CRC. We have General Caregiver Support Groups, as well as Specialized Support Groups that are specific to a need or diagnosis. We also offer support groups in a variety of languages. Click here to find your local Center.
- Your loved one’s healthcare team. Their PCP or another healthcare professional familiar with your situation is another strong resource for finding a local support group.
- Advocacy organizations. If there’s an organization that is specific to the health condition or disability you’re caring for, contact them for help finding a local support group.
- Facebook groups. There is likely already an online community of people in your local area who support each other through Facebook. They may or may not organize group sessions, but either way will have a trove of searchable information saved in their archives. Search the “Groups” tab within Facebook for keywords like [Your City] and [Health Condition] to find one in your local area.
The role of caregiver is always tough, but you’re part of a large, strong, and helpful community of people who are or have been in your shoes. The California Caregiver Resource Centers were created with you both in mind and at heart to be a free resource as you navigate the challenging role you’re in. We would love to connect you with your local Center, which can talk more about local programs and support groups for caregivers, answer your questions, and explain how they can best support you.Share this post: