Caregiver Support Groups: Benefits, Tips, and Best Groups to Join

More than 80% of family caregivers say that taking care of their aging loved one has been a rewarding experience. However, that doesn’t mean caretaking is easy or you’ll never have bad days. Trying to juggle caretaking duties with other responsibilities like working a full-time job can be stressful and lead to burnout.

In those moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything on your plate, it’s helpful to know you’re not alone. There are other caregivers out there who understand exactly what you’re going through. Attending a support group can help you connect with fellow caretakers and receive the guidance and reassurance you need to get through hard times.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of caregiver support groups and find meetings to attend in the Dallas area.

Benefits of Joining a Caregiver Support Group

You became a caregiver for your relative because you love them and want to support them. However, no matter how motivated you are to help your loved one and improve their quality of life, taking care of them can start to wear on you over time.

Caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue are very common. About 40% of caregivers report feeling emotionally stressed by their duties, and 20% say they feel physically strained. Caregivers are also more likely to develop physical and mental health problems like depression than non-caregivers.

Every caregiver needs a way to blow off steam and reduce their stress levels. One way to relieve some of the pressure you may feel is to join a caregiver support group. Support groups give you a place to vent and allow you to get advice from other family caregivers. Here are some of the main benefits of attending a caregiver support group so you can decide if you want to join one.

Gives You a Judgment-Free Space to Vent

Caregiving is a tough job that you can never really clock out of. Even when someone else is watching your loved one, you still have to be on-call in case of emergency. The 24/7 nature of caregiving can be exhausting, and friends and family members without similar responsibilities may not always understand what you’re going through.

Luckily there are caregiver support groups where you can vent about the challenges you face to people who know how hard caretaking can be. Because everyone in the group understands the highs and lows of caring for aging relatives, you won’t feel judged when you share your experiences and emotions.

Provides You With Tips and Resources

Many seniors have complex health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease that can be hard to manage. If your loved one is exhibiting behaviors you don’t know how to handle such as wandering or mood changes, your support group can give you tips and advice on how to deal with them.

Fellow group members may also be able to suggest helpful resources in your area such as respite care and transportation services to take some weight and responsibilities off your shoulders.

Helps You Learn Healthy Coping Skills

Family caregivers deal with stressful situations on a daily basis, so learning how to cope and manage your emotions is essential. Talking to other caregivers can help you learn new self-care strategies and figure out how to find balance in your life so you don’t get burned out.

Helps Reduce Loneliness

As a busy family caregiver, you probably don’t have much free time, which can cause your relationships to suffer. Your friends may not understand why you don’t have time to see them and start to drift away from you as a result.

If you’ve lost touch with friends due to your caretaking duties and you’re feeling lonely, joining a caregiver support group can help. You’ll make new friends who understand why you have a packed schedule and can’t always meet up.

Tips for a Positive Caregiving Group Experience

If you’ve never attended a support group before, here are some tips to help you have a positive experience.

Find Someone You Trust to Watch Your Loved One

Many older adults can’t be left alone, especially if they have Alzheimer’s or dementia. To get the most benefit from your support group, find someone you trust to watch your relative while you’re at the meeting. If you’re worried about your loved one, you won’t be able to focus on yourself and the healing you need to do during your support group.

If you don’t have a reliable friend, family member, or neighbor who can watch your loved one, you can get respite care from an in-home care agency like Professional Caretakers. Our experienced, nurturing caregivers are always available to take some duties off your plate, whether you just need occasional help or ongoing assistance.

Respect Everyone’s Privacy

In order for a support group to feel like a safe space, the privacy of all members must be respected. Remember not to share anything you hear during meetings with others outside the group, unless someone’s safety is at risk.

Practice Active Listening

Believe it or not, studies have shown that only 10% of Americans listen effectively. Most of us don’t give our full attention to others while they’re speaking because we get distracted by our own thoughts and stressors. You’ll have a more positive support group experience if you practice active listening by following the tips below.

  • Try to make eye contact with the person who’s speaking.
  • Avoid interrupting others while they’re talking. However, you can nod along to show you’re listening.
  • Don’t think about what you’ll say next or how you’re going to respond. Focus your attention on listening to the person who’s speaking and trying to understand what they’re going through.

Practicing active listening will enable you to give your fellow group members better advice. And knowing you’ve truly helped someone else may lift your spirits. According to AgingCare, using your experiences to give other caregivers guidance can increase your self-esteem and make you feel happier overall.

Don’t Be Afraid to Open Up

Although being a listening ear for other caregivers can boost your mood, don’t forget to open up and share your emotions too. It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns and become a caretaker for the group without ever asking for help yourself. Even if it feels unnatural or uncomfortable, allow yourself to lean on the other group members for guidance and emotional support.

Caregiving Groups to Join

Caregiver support groups come in a variety of different formats. Some groups meet online over Zoom while others are conducted in person. There are even online forums where you can get advice from other caregivers on your own schedule if you’re too busy to commit to a regular meeting time.

There are also groups for different kinds of caretakers, such as working caregivers who have full-time jobs. Additionally, you can find illness-specific groups for people caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or the side effects of a stroke, for example. To help you choose the right group for your situation, here’s a list of caregiver support groups you can join in the Dallas area and online.

Best General Caregiver Support Group

The Senior Source Caregiver Support Program in Dallas is a great resource for both new and experienced caregivers. They have a virtual caregiver support group that meets during the third week of every month and workshops like this evidence-based stress-busting program. Senior Source also offers support for caretakers by phone and can connect you with helpful local resources such as transportation, housekeeping, and legal services.

Support Groups for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Patients

The Alzheimer’s Association of Northeast Texas has a list of in-person and virtual support groups for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients in the Greater Dallas area. Each group is led by a trained facilitator and can help you overcome the unique challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, such as dealing with changes in mood and behavior.

Best Support Group for Working Caregivers

Working Daughter is a Facebook support group for people who are holding down a full-time job while caring for a loved one. It’s a great place to ask questions and get advice about how to balance work, caretaking, and family responsibilities while still making time for self-care.

Support Group for Caregivers of Veterans

Joining a support group can help you deal with the unique challenges of caring for an aging veteran, such as managing PTSD and navigating the VA system. The Red Cross has a peer-moderated online community for caretakers of veterans and a mentorship program that can provide you with one-on-one support.

The VA also has a peer support program that allows you to serve as an adviser to other caregivers or receive advice from an experienced mentor.

Don’t forget to get support at home too.

Although caregiver support groups are a useful resource, sometimes you may need more help than a weekly or monthly meeting can provide. If you’re feeling exhausted and burned out, hiring a professional in-home caregiver to watch over your loved one can give you the opportunity to rest. Contact Professional Caretakers today to learn more about how we can support you in your caregiving journey.