Sharing your experiences and making new connections can make you feel better about life in general. I’ve found that while caregiving, a perfect place to accomplish this is through support groups.
One of the first things that amazed me after sitting in on my first dementia caregiver’s support meeting was the number of people who still attended even after their loved ones had perished. This showed me that the caregivers that participated in these meetings were devoted to distributing their wealth of knowledge to others in need, who are now coping with the same hardships.
This type of meeting will help you feel less alone while discovering new abilities and motivation to keep up the good fight as you take on one of life’s most demanding jobs.
Suppose you are a caregiver and decide to go this route. In that case, you will discover a harmonious effect from sharing the journey you’re traveling in a safe and welcome environment with people who are going or gone through the same pilgrimage. Also, it is so comforting to know that everything you say will always remain confidential.
Please keep in mind that this is not group counseling. If you’re dealing with bouts of depression, you should also seek professional help. Support groups are for people who share common interests and are searching for tips and advice on providing your loved one with the best quality of life possible.
If you first attend a group meeting that doesn’t seem helpful, shop around. There are usually quite a few options for meetings in your neighborhood these days.
Meetings are usually scheduled once or twice a month; try to find someone to fill in for your caregiving duties. Get out of the house and try one of these support groups or attend one that’s online. They’re worth investigating. I don’t believe that you will be disappointed. Just the confirmation that the feelings you’re experiencing are perfectly normal will have you walking out believing everything is going to be okay.
I wish that it would become mandatory for every physician who deals with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases to attend at least one caregiver’s support group meeting. I guarantee that they would start listening to their patients’ caregivers a little more closely after that.
Gary Joseph LeBlanc
Dementia Spotlight Foundation