Being a caretaker or having a loved one who requires help can present physical, mental, and emotional challenges that can feel overwhelming at times. You may not have a strong network of people who can help you when you have questions, which in turn can make you feel like you must face those concerns on your own. Fortunately, senior support groups are available in many communities to lend a hand or provide an ear to listen to any stress. Here's how support groups can be a lifesaver for anyone taking care of a senior.
What They Do
Support groups exist in many forms. They may be organized like a class, with a lecturer who educates the participants, or they can be more informal, just a simple gathering of people to share stories and offer comfort and advice. They can meet once a week, once a month, or somewhere in between, and the meetings are usually scheduled after traditional work hours, on weekends or in the evenings. Health systems, hospitals, rehabs, and other senior care facilities will host these support groups for a small fee or free of charge.
What To Expect
Support groups for seniors specialize in health conditions such as dementia, various types of cancer, heart conditions, etc. A facilitator, who may be a geriatric professional, counselor, or a trained volunteer will start the discussion, either opening the floor to the group or introducing a topic of focus. The group provides a safe space for everyone to speak, if they wish to do so, or to just sit and listen. It should be an environment free of judgement, allowing caregivers and seniors the chance to share their stories and learn from others who are going through the same experiences. Meetings can last up to two hours and should be small enough to allow everyone the opportunity to participate.
How To Find One
You shouldn't have to look too hard to find a support group for seniors. Often times groups are held in church halls, as well as groups that are independently run by other senior providers such as day programs and in-home care companies. Physicians can recommend a hospital-sponsored group closer to the participant’s home. A social services agency or non-profit organization in your area may also be a good resource. You can also find an online support group through a national program or with just a quick internet search.
Having support from other peers can be helpful during the aging process for seniors and their caretakers. For more resources or services for both caretakers and seniors, contact Home Helpers. We provide free in-home consultations and can recommend support groups that are local to you.