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Benefits of Caregiver Support Groups & Where to Find Them(Canada)

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When Danae was a child, her dad kept a standing appointment every Saturday at 7 a.m. He met with a small group of friends at a local doughnut shop to have coffee and “solve the world’s problems,” as he put it. Whether he knew it or not, he was participating in a support group.

Today, as her dad’s caregiver, Danae relies on a support group, too. She attends a monthly social event for Alzheimer’s caregivers where they have forged friendships with one another and, perhaps more importantly, they have come to understand that they are not alone in some of their caregiver frustrations. By sharing tips, they help ease each other’s caregiving burden just a little. That’s one of the benefits of support groups.

According to the Mayo Clinic, participating in a support group can help caregivers feel “less lonely, isolated or judged.” Support groups also can help you feel more empowered, increase your coping skills and allow you to exchange notes regarding medical professionals or treatments.

Caregiver support groups exist both online and in the community, and you often can find groups for specific health conditions or situations, such as Parkinson’s or spousal caregiving. Online groups may work well for people who tend to be a bit shy or who can only participate at odd hours, while in-person groups allow participants to socialize in person and share real tears, hugs and laughs.

How to Find a Caregiver Support Group

One easy way to look for an in-person support group is with a Google search. Try typing “caregiver support group” plus your postal code. Or, be more specific and type something like “cancer caregiver support group” with your postal code.

Other ways to find in-person groups:

• Ask your church or faith-based community
• Check with community affiliates of national non-profits, like your local Alzheimer’s Society or Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
• Check with your neighbourhood senior center
• Try the Well Spouse Association website, which lists support groups for spousal caregivers in both the U.S. and Canada
• Call your local CAMIMH (Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health) office, which may offer support groups for those caring for veterans, teens or children, or someone with dementia
• Start one yourself-if you can’t find a group that meets your needs, be the organizer!

Online Support Groups

If you prefer a more anonymous or flexible approach to asking for (and receiving) support, online groups might be the better choice. You can find thousands of groups around the globe by searching with Google—or use this helpful list to get started. Many of these communities offer dozens of very specific subgroups, so be sure to explore thoroughly.

Caregiver Stress Facebook Community
Remember for Alzheimer's Facebook Community
UsAgainstAlzheimer's Support Group Support Groups This site offers subgroups for spousal and parental caregiving, diabetes caregiving and many other conditions and situations. Alzheimer's & Dementia Q&A
Caregiver Action Network Care Community Forums These support groups range from general caregiving to COPD and Huntington’s caregiving.
Smart Patients Caregivers Community (in partnership with Family Caregiver Alliance)
Cancer Support Community offers online and in-person support groups for anyone affected by cancer, including caregivers
Online Parkinson’s Support Groups (list maintained by Stanford Health)
4th Angel Mentoring for Cancer Caregivers This unique program matches you with an experienced cancer caregiver for one-on-one phone or email mentoring.
Strength for the Moment Facebook Community for prayer support and faith-based inspiration.

Danae and her fellow caregivers may not be “solving the world’s problems” each month when their support group meets, but they are maintaining vital social contact with and finding solutions to caregiving challenges. To them, it’s worth making the time. As Danae puts it, “I don’t think I’d be half as good a caregiver to Dad without the support of these people. I only hope I can give back as much as I receive.”

Last revised: October 6, 2017

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