Who cares for the carers?
It’s important that you look after yourself when you’re caring for a loved one. The last thing they need is for you to pack up under the strain. No one should be ashamed of seeking help.
If you get the support you need you’ll feel more energized. You’ll also be less likely to slip into caregiver fatigue or, worse still, caregiver depression.
One of the best ways to feel supported is to share the challenges you’re facing with others who can empathize with you. A dementia caregiver support group will do exactly that and more. Here are the top eight benefits of joining a group.
1. A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved
Caring for a dementia sufferer involves a great deal of multi-tasking. One moment you’re checking medicines, the next you’re cooking a meal or running an errand.
Adding all this to the normal trials of everyday life means it’s hardly surprising that stress levels will rise.
Just being able to offload and share the daily difficulties you face is going to be a real boost. The ability to do that with people who are facing similar issues is especially beneficial.
2. A Cure for Isolation
Most caregivers are so busy that they have very little time, if any at all, to socialize. Support groups will put a stop to this type of isolation. If you’re caring around the clock then it’s very easy indeed to slip into isolation.
Even if you do have a bit of spare time, feeling guilty about enjoying yourself can be a common emotion. You want to protect your loved one from harm and so taking time out can feel an impossibility.
A support group can combat this. Listening to others and sharing experiences will help you feel that you are not alone.
Whatever issues you’re facing, you can guarantee someone else will be going through or has gone through something similar.
3. Looking After Your Mental Health
Joining a dementia caregiver support group is going to promote your mental health. This, in turn, is going to have a positive impact on the person you’re caring for. You will feel more positive and more able to continue with the challenges you face.
You’ll need to commit to setting aside a regular time to attend the group sessions. This is going to give you a real sense of empowerment. You’ll know that you have a safe place where any negative emotions can be validated and understood.
4. A Place for Learning
A support group will not just provide you with the social and emotional support you need. It’s also exactly the right place to find out more about the processes that come with dementia.
Information is power and you may well learn about new aspects of the disease along with new coping mechanisms. It can also be an opportunity to find out more to help you understand your loved one’s behavior.
A lot of groups combine expert advice on everything related to caregiving. If you’re armed with more knowledge and practical help, then you’ll be far more able to cope.
You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about treatment options you may never have known existed.
5. Expanding Your Network
It’s quite likely that you’re going to connect with people who have to deal with difficult situations like yourself. These bonds can be extremely strong. This can lead to expanding social time outside the group sessions.
You may well be able to meet up for an occasional meal or outing with members of the group you get on particularly well with. Being able to do this with people who really understand your life takes away any feelings of guilt you may have.
It’s not uncommon for carers to lose touch with family and friends because of the demands on their time. Making new friends who have faced similar issues is a great way to expand your social network and feel supported.
6. Reap the Rewards
Believe it or not, you are a real expert in caregiving. You know the challenges inside out and you have often had to come up with solutions very quickly. Being able to share these experiences with others is immensely rewarding.
Members of the group are going to be very interested in how you manage to overcome specific difficulties. This includes issues like how to communicate with the dementia sufferer. Your experiences are genuinely going to help them cope better.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
7. Feel Valued
Carers often spend very little time looking after themselves. This means they can start to lose confidence rapidly. A caregiver support group can help you to feel valued.
Looking after someone with dementia can feel like a thankless task. Group sessions can be ideal places to reaffirm what you are good at.
Others are genuinely going to be grateful to you for sharing your experiences. That will have a significantly positive impact on the way you perceive yourself. It will give you the sort of recognition you need to carry on with such a difficult situation.
8. Regain Your Sense of Identity
When you’re immersed in the challenges of caring for some with dementia it’s very easy to lose your sense of identity. There can be a genuine longing to have your old life back.
Taking time out from the daily grind of caring is going to reestablish your own sense of identity. Interacting with others is going to give you a bit more of you back. The group will be able to see the type of person you are and reflect this back to you.
The Value of a Dementia Caregiver Support Group
There is one fundamental thing that anyone caring for a loved one with dementia needs to learn. That is to look after themselves. Not only will it help them to do a better job but it will also be beneficial for the person they are caring for.
Joining a dementia caregiver support group is a great step that will reduce isolation and give the carer a well-deserved break.
You can read more tips here for other ways that can benefit you as a carer. They’ll help you to cope with the difficult challenges you face every day.