Alzheimer's Support Groups
Alzheimer’s Support Groups – Looking into the Caregivers’ needs
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease gradually lose their abilities, one after another and they require someone at their side constantly. These helpers are referred to as caregivers and may be family members or professionals in medical facilities. As a caregiver, it can be very stressful and emotionally draining to watch your patient’s memory and skills fade away. In the beginning these challenges can go unnoticed but with time if unchecked, they can negatively impact on the daily life of the caregiver.
The pressure, stress and emotional strain on the caregiver needs to be assessed and plans put in place to help them maintain the quality of their lives. Alzheimer’s support groups can be for patients, caregivers or both. So what help do Alzheimer’s support groups offer?
Sharing your story and problems: A support group is an ideal place for caregivers to share their experiences and stories. Talking to someone who is going through what you are going through will let you know that they truly understand you. It gives members a chance to acknowledge their emotions and stresses and also allows them to freely express their feelings. It is a cheaper alternative to hiring a therapist.
Getting and giving advice: As members share experiences, there is a wealth of advice in the stories. Through the sharing, advice on medications and their side effects can be obtained. In addition one can learn about facilities such as therapists, assisted living facilities, home health aides and nursing homes available in the area.
Listening Forum: It gives members a chance to listen to others and in the process this takes your mind away from your own situation, even if for just a while. Respectful listening to other people’s problems with empathy is a great gift that caregivers give each other in Alzheimer’s support groups.
Connecting with others: The overwhelming task of care giving can make one feel lonely. Through sharing and listening to others in Alzheimer’s support groups, one can safeguard their health and happiness. When you celebrate the achievements of your patient, the joy is doubles and when you share the challenges they are halved. This gives one the strength and encouragement to move on along this difficult journey.
In any support group, members are bound to have differences in opinions and philosophies and it is important for members to respect these differing opinions. You need not take up every piece of advice or agree with every philosophy presented during meetings. The key is listening understandingly to others.
As we concentrate on Alzheimer’s disease patients, sometimes caregivers’ needs are too often forgotten. Their work is a taxing, nerve-racking and emotional job that readily evokes emotions of confusion, sorrow and rage. It is important to realize that they too undergo various challenges which need to be addressed for them to be more effective in their work. Alzheimer’s support groups offer them a forum to address their issues and hence cope better with the demanding task they are carrying out.
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