By Gail J. Shaw, Care Coordinator –
Have you ever wondered what you could get out of attending a support group? You may already know first-hand that the life of a caregiver is filled with all kinds of challenges. especially if your loved one has memory loss. Support groups offer educational information, ways to successfully cope and, most importantly, to know that you’re not the only one going through your current life challenges.
Here at St. John’s Community Care, we offer three support groups to family caregivers. Two are for the family caregiver who is caring for a loved one dealing with any kind of aging issues. The third group is an Alzheimer’s Support Group. Over the years, many family caregivers have found these groups to be caring, educational and emotionally supportive. Support group members come to find they enjoy sharing time with the other members of the group. They laugh and cry together as they share caregiving stories.
As one of the Alzheimer’s Support group facilitators, I am constantly reminding and encouraging the participants to take care of themselves. I can see the stress of caregiving for someone 24/7 wearing a person down mentally and physically. Unfortunately, family caregivers are not always able to see how the stress is directly affecting their health and relationships.
Support group participants talk about many issues. At this time of the year, the conversation may include the thought of how they no longer have time to themselves or wondering how they could attend a grandchild’s upcoming wedding or graduation. As a group, we discuss the use of respite which allows someone else to provide care while the family caregiver gets away. Members encourage each other to find ways to make time for themselves. Once they realize there are alternatives to use in caring for their loved one, then you start to see the smiles and hear the stories about what they did to relax.
Home Services has helped family caregivers be able to take vacations. One caregiver was able to use a
St. John’s Home Services Caregiver, along with family, so she could take a trip out of the country. Others now look forward to weekly lunches with family or church friends while a St. John’s Home Services Caregiver attends to their spouse at home.
We even have family caregivers using a St. John’s Caregiver so they can attend a support group because they do not want to miss the monthly meeting.
Family caregivers need to be able to get away from giving direct care so they can energize themselves. Support groups are a good way to get out and meet people who will understand what you’re going through at home. If you or someone you know could benefit by attending one of our support groups, please call the office at 344-5008 for information on time and meeting place.