Often, we advise family caregivers to seek out a caregiver support group. Support groups are designed to provide education, resources, and emotional support for the family caregiver and their loved one.
However, if a family caregiver has never participated in a support group setting, there are many unanswered questions about what can be expected in regard to group dynamics and the overall format of a support group.
What To Expect From a Support Group Meeting?
1. Professionals and volunteers capable of providing valuable information.
Although many support groups are lead by volunteers or former caregivers who have journeyed through the many phases of your loved one’s particular illness, professionals should be accessible to provide information about caregiving techniques, illness-related concerns, legal and financial issues, as well as other resources in the area.
2. A comfortable and supportive environment.
A caregiver support group should be a calming and comfortable environment. In addition to receiving valuable information, the family caregiver should be able to feel at ease while building relationships with the group facilitators, as well as other members. There should be a sense of confidentiality among members.
3. Sharing information among members.
Family caregivers have a wealth of information to share with one another and an effective caregiver support group allows for open discussion and exchange of ideas among the members.
4. Educational presentations.
In addition to the emotional and social components of a family caregiver support group, a strong group provides qualified speakers from the community who can provide in-depth information on a wide variety of topics.
5. Regular schedules.
Caregivers have enough of a challenge finding respite care so that they can attend support group meetings. The meeting organizers have a responsibility to maintain a regular schedule and prompt beginning and ending times.
Caregiver support groups can provide an excellent avenue for gathering valuable resources in a short amount of time, as well as providing personal approaches to problem solving. Several organizations such as the Houston and Southeast Texas Alzheimer’s Association and Houston Area Parkinson’s Society provide information on support groups in the Houston area.