How to Find and Connect with an Online Support Group
Being a caregiver for a family member or close friend can be a rewarding experience. Whether it is helping a loved one recover from an injury or illness, assisting an older person with household tasks or chores, or caring for someone at the end of their life, caregivers often find a sense of purpose that comes from knowing they are making a difference.
Caregiving is also physically and emotionally exhausting. It isn’t uncommon for a caregiver to feel overwhelmed, isolated, and weary. Caregivers often focus so much of their time and energy on their loved one that they neglect their own mental and physical well-being.
Because the demands of caregiving are so unique, caregivers may feel as if no one else can understand what they are going through. If the caregiver has children living at home or a job outside the home, these feelings can be even more pronounced. According to the National Center on Caregiving, 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers experience symptoms of depression.
Connecting with fellow caregivers is one of the best ways to manage the emotional challenges that come from caring for a friend or family member. One avenue for doing so is joining a caregiver support group.
Caregiver Support Groups Offer Insight and Understanding
Caregiver support groups provide opportunities for people to share resources, seek advice from fellow caregivers, and talk about their frustrations in a judgment-free setting. You can ask fellow caregivers for recommendations on a neurologist for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or look for feedback on local assisted living communities.
While some caregivers might want to find a support group to attend in person, others might appreciate the anonymity and flexibility of an online caregiver support group. The internet makes it easy for busy caregivers to join a support group. Caregivers can participate in chat forums and seek support via message boards as their schedule allows.
Why Join an Online Caregiver Support Group?
Here are a few of the many benefits online caregiver support groups offer:
- Convenience: At the end of an especially frustrating day of caregiving, you can connect with peers online from the convenience of your living room sofa.
- Anonymity: Sometimes, caregivers are reluctant to open up and share their innermost fears and frustrations in a group setting. An online support group can offer members anonymity, which allows them to be honest without feeling judged.
- Easy access: With a laptop, tablet, or smartphone and an internet connection, caregivers can connect with peers. This can be especially helpful for those who can’t leave their senior loved one alone to attend a support group meeting, or for those who live in a rural area where in-person support is limited.
Finding Online Caregiver Support Groups
If you’d like to give an online caregiver support group a try, here are a few suggestions.
- Family Caregiver Alliance: This popular caregiver website is home to a variety of unmoderated support groups for caregivers. You can connect with one that has members experiencing issues and concerns similar to yours.
- AlzConnected: Hosted by experts from the Alzheimer’s Association, this caregiver site offers a variety of resources. Its message boards and chat rooms are dedicated to people who have dementia or have a loved one with dementia.
- CareGiving.com: Another site that offers a combination of resources and a caregiver forum is CareGiving.com. Forum topics range from the most affordable adult briefs to accepting it is time for hospice care for a loved one.
Whether it is online or in person, participating in a support group might provide a busy caregiver with the emotional support they need.
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