How to choose a Support Group
|A gazebo offers a welcoming spot in downtown Marlborough/Photo by Douglas Flynn
Caring for a loved one can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Being able to share your thoughts and concerns with others who are experiencing similar circumstances can be a valuable coping tool.
Support groups are one of the few environments where your thoughts and concerns need no explanation. Group members can often provide invaluable experience-based suggestions, saving you both time and worry.
When you’re considering a group, think about what you’re hoping to gain. Some groups routinely offer speakers versus sharing and discussion among its members. If you can, contact the group leader to discuss your needs and to find out about the group.
Good questions to ask are:
- What is the size of the group? A smaller group may make it easier to establish personal connections with people who can also support you outside of the group setting.
- How long have most members been caregivers? It’s good to have a mix of those just starting out and more experienced members who can provide you with the insights they have learned, and what has or has not worked for them.
- What is the background of the group leader? Someone who has been a caregiver or has worked in a care setting is best.
- How is the group run? Does everyone get a chance to share at every meeting? Are the discussions of the group kept private?
- How often does the group meet? Can you go to as many or as few meetings as you would like?
- How does the group leader communicate with its members to schedule meeting changes or other pertinent information? Be sure the method works well for you.
If you join a group and find it doesn’t work for you for any reason, change it. Also, as your caregiving experience grows you may decide you need a group with a different makeup or focus.
In either case, don’t hesitate to move to a group that better suits your needs. Support groups can provide a wealth of information and comfort as you move through your caregiving journey.
For a listing of caregiver support groups in MetroWest, please check out our support groups page in our Resources in MetroWest section.
Contributed by Diane McCauley