Your Gateway to Senior Resources

   The value of caregiver support groups

Remember that old adage, "trouble shared is trouble halved"? A caregiver support group is one way to share your troubles. Seek out people who are going through the same experiences that you are living each day. If you can't leave the house, many Internet services are available.

In most support groups, you'll talk about your problems and listen to others talk; you'll not only get help, but you'll be able to help others, too. Most important, you'll find out that you're not alone.You’ll feel better knowing that other people are in the same situation, and their knowledge can be invaluable, especially if they’re dealing with the same illness you are.

Types of Caregiver Support Groups

Community support groups for caregivers:
People live near each other and meet in a given place each week or month. 
You get face-to-face contact and a chance to make new friends who live near you. 
The meetings get you out of the house, get you moving provide a social outlet, and reduce feelings of isolation. 
Meetings are at a set time. You will need to attend them regularly to get the full benefit of the group. 
Since the people in the support group are from your area, they'll be more familiar with local resources and issues. 

Internet support groups for caregivers:
People are from all over the world and have similar interests or problems. 
You meet online, through email lists, websites, message boards, or chat rooms. 
You can get support without leaving your house, which is good for people with limited mobility or transportation problems. 
You can access the group whenever it's convenient for you or when you need help most. 
If your problem is very unusual – a rare disease, for example – there may not be enough people for a local group, but there will always be enough people online. 

To find a community support group, check the yellow pages, ask your doctor or hospital, or call a local organization that deals with the health problem you would like to address in a support group. To find an Internet support group, visit the website of an organization dedicated to the problem or do a web search on the name of the problem.

Melinda Smith, M.A. and Gina Kemp, M.A., contributed to this article