“I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with a caregiver who claimed she wasn’t a ‘joiner,’ who reluctantly went to a caregiver support group, and eventually credited that support group with saving her sanity.”
Jennifer L. Fitzpatrick, Cruising Through Caregiving
Social support is essential for the mental, emotional and spiritual health of caregivers. It can be difficult to feel heard and understood by those who don’t truly understand the struggle of taking care of an aging or disabled loved one. Support groups are meant to create a safe, non-judgmental environment where your voice is heard, your struggles are validated, and you can talk face-to-face with individuals who are sharing your same experiences.
Whether you are new to caregiving or took the responsibilities on long ago, you are not expected to carry the burdens alone. Joining a support group has a number of benefits that can improve your quality of life, and in turn allow you to better care for your loved one. Support groups offer:
The opportunity to share and relate to the experiences of others facing the same issues.
New coping strategies and finding solutions to common issues.
Affirmation that caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your loved one, and that the struggles you face emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually are all valid.
Friendships with those that understand what you're going through and reducing the tendency to isolate when responsibilities get overwhelming.
The opportunity to help others and share the skills and knowledge you've acquired on your own journey.
Many local support groups have gone exclusively virtual due to COVID-19.
Virtual Support Groups can give you the chance to be a part of a like-minded community without having to leave your home. Find a group that fits into your schedule, reach out to the facilitator or contact person, and try to commit to at least one meeting. Even just by trying, you are prioritizing yourself and making a commitment to your own well-being.
Virtual Support Groups
Note, this is not a list of ALL virtual support groups in the area.
Alzheimer’s Association: alz.org or call 1-800-272-3900
Community Hospice Bereavement Education and Support- Online Workshops and Support Sessions.
Additional Support Resources:
Aging True Senior Services Virtual Mental Health Counseling: call 904-807-1243 for more information.
SAMHSA HelpLine: Connect with a trained mental health professional, call 1-800-662-4357
African-American Alzheimer’s Caregiver Training and Support (ACTS 2): Free phone-based support and training sessions. Contact: Tomeka Norton, 850-274-4945 or firstname.lastname@example.org
American Cancer Society: Caregiver Resources and Support
The Caregiver Space: Online forum for caregivers from all walks of life. The Caregiver Space also runs several Facebook groups for caregivers in specific circumstances.
Florida Blue 24/7 Bilingual Emotional Support HelpLine: 833-848-1762
Veteran’s Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255