Caregiving is often described as a journey, one that can be challenging and isolating. Caregiver support groups can be an important source of support for caregivers, from emotional support and community referrals to simply being around others who understand what you're going through. Finding the time for a support group can be difficult, but here are 5 reasons why you should make this a priority to care for yourself as well as you do for your loved one.
We live in an information age with many resources available, from medical professionals to internet articles and telehealth support. Despite all of these, the best advice often comes not from professionals but people who are experiencing the same things as you in their own daily lives, whether it's how to convince Dad to put on his socks in the morning or how to juggle driving both Mom and the kids to all the places they need to be.
Being a caregiver can bring a wide range of emotions such as fear, anxiety, grief, uncertainty and isolation. A support group can help you identify these emotions and develop positive coping strategies, with support and knowledge from those around you.
Caregiving can make it hard to keep up with friends and acquaintances, especially if they don't understand your daily challenges. A support group provides you with an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations, and can help with the feelings of isolation and burnout that many caregivers face.
Understanding and Acceptance
Do you ever question your decisions as a caregiver? Do you feel like nobody can help because they don't understand? Other caregivers understand! Support groups provide an environment of understanding, acceptance and comfort that can help you feel more confident in your caregiver role and maintain a positive attitude. The more supported you feel as a caregiver, the better you can support your loved one.
Resources and Referrals
Many support groups are facilitated by a professional or involve an educational component. This gives you someone to connect with for referrals to community resources and to provide more information about your loved one's condition and how to best support them through their journey.
While caring for a loved one can leave little room for other activities, hopefully these benefits will convince you that it's worth the effort to take this time for yourself. For caregivers in the Niagara region, here are some resources to find a local caregiver support group that may benefit you and your family's unique circumstances.
- Alzheimer Society of Niagara
- Survivors of Stroke Niagara
- Wellspring Niagara
- Brain Injury Association of Niagara
- Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
- Family Support Network of Niagara
- March of Dimes Canada
- Young Carers Initiative - Powerhouse Project