Being a CDS caregiver is not always easy. The demands associated with caring for a friend or family member can many times be overwhelming. Whether you’re caring for someone with a terminal illness or an aging parent, being responsible for their care is often stressful, leaving you with very little energy to take care of your own needs.
Luckily, there are support groups out there that can help. If you’re a caregiver struggling with stress or burnout, joining a support group can be a game-changer. In this article, we will take a look at how caregivers can benefit.
Why Would Caregivers Benefit from a Support Group?
If you’re a caregiver, you probably know how stressful it can be. Taking care of your loved one during a vulnerable time is not only sad to see but can contribute to stress in the relationship. Oftentimes, because the person you’re caring for is suffering and not able to care for themselves, they can be short-tempered and agitated.
Of course, this is understandable. However, it rarely feels good to be yelled at when you’re trying to do the best you can to give the best care possible. This dynamic can lead to feeling unappreciated.
Aside from feeling unappreciated, you might also be struggling with the demands of having to provide constant care. This can be very tiring. While it is true that you want to do everything in your power to be available as a caregiver, this can come at a cost.
Caregiver burnout is almost inevitable, and sadly there is very little to be done to avoid it. This is why it is so important to seek out a community going through the same challenges you’re faced with. This community can be found in the form of a caregiver support group.
When joining a caregiver support group, you can expect a collaborative environment that is a safe place to share the struggles associated with being a caregiver. Sharing your experience, as well as hearing about the experiences of others, can give you the peace of mind that you’re not alone.
Knowing that other people are facing the same issues you’re dealing with can alleviate a lot of the stress that goes along with being a caretaker. Hearing about others that are dealing with the same trials and tribulations can give you a great sense of validation and reduce feelings of guilt or shame that you aren’t doing a good job.
The truth is that most caregivers are trying their best to always be available to the person they’re caring for. Additionally, most caregivers also deal with feelings of inadequacy in that they aren’t doing everything in their power to care for their loved ones during their time of need. These feelings of guilt can begin to eat away at your psyche and can make you feel isolated. Having a group to express your feelings to can help alleviate these feelings of guilt and shame because the chances are that the other members of the group are feeling the same thing.
By sharing your experiences with others who are in the same situation, you have a great sense of unity with other caretakers, and this can be refreshing. Knowing that you aren’t alone can be a great way for you to overcome the daily stresses involved with caregiving and can help prevent your mental health from deteriorating.
With all of this in mind, it is undeniable that becoming part of a community of like-minded individuals can be extremely beneficial in your quest to being a better caregiver while also giving you the ability to take care of your mental health.
Caregiver Support Group Advantages
Having gone over some of the primary reasons you should consider seeking out a caregiver support group, we would like to go over some of the primary advantages of joining a support group.
The main advantage is that it provides an outlet to release the overwhelming stress that comes along with being a caregiver. While you might be reluctant to share the negatives that come with caregiving, you would be surprised at how much of your stress can be alleviated simply by sharing your story with others going through the same thing.
Taking the time to process your experience with others gives you the ability to combat burnout because you’re focusing on yourself for once. Oftentimes as caregivers, we feel like we need to always be there for the person we’re caring for. However, not taking the time to take care of yourself will ultimately be less effective in your duties.
Support groups will equip you with the tools you need to cope with your stress and will most likely allow you to prevent developing a serious mental health disorder. With this in mind, the importance of having a group that you can share your experience with cannot be emphasized enough if you’re trying to be the best version of yourself during a stressful time.
What to Look for in a Caregiver Support Group
Now that we’ve gone over the major benefits of joining a support group, we would be remiss if we didn’t provide an overview of the most important considerations to make when looking for one.
When looking for a support group, it is important to look for an organization that has strong leadership and experience. A group leader with many years of experience dealing with the stress of caregivers is essential. Group leaders with experience have seen and heard a lot of stories regarding the challenges caregivers face. Their expertise can help guide you through the best ways to cope with the massive amounts of stress that can come with caring for a loved one or family member.
Aside from looking for a professional and established group, it is also important to look into your potential group’s mission and goals. Picking a group that outlines a clear methodology and goals to help you combat burnout and stress is essential. Less established groups might not have a clear strategy which would make them less than ideal options for a caregiver support group.
How Much Does a Support Group Cost?
This is a very common question to those who are new to caregiver support groups. The answer will largely depend on the group you decide to join. With many support groups to choose from, there is a wide range of affordable options to fit any budget.
When looking into a support group, it is important to see if your insurance will cover your support meetings. In most cases, many insurance companies will cover the majority of the cost leaving you with very little out-of-pocket costs.
5 Missouri Caregiver Support Groups
- Missouri Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) (800-445-8106 | [email protected])
- FCA works at the local, state, and national levels to improve the quality of life for family caregivers of adults with cognitive and physical disabilities through services, education, advocacy, and research.
- SeniorResource.com provides a comprehensive source of relevant information and services for seniors and their caregivers.
- The Alzheimer’s Association provides resources for caregivers that include what to expect and how to prepare as a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.
- St. Louis: 9370 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132 (800-272-3900)
- Springfield: 3645 South Ave., Springfield, MO 65807 (417-866-2199)
- Columbia: 2609 E. Broadway, Suite 119, Columbia, MO 65201 (573-443-8665)
- St. Joseph: 927 Fararon P.O. Box 1241, St. Joseph, MO 64501 (816-364-4467)
- Prairie Village: 3846 W. 75th St., Suite 4126, Prairie Village, KS 66208 (800-272-3900)
- 24/7 Helpline [email protected]
- The DHSS manages public health and services for older and disabled Missourians. 912 Wildwood, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0570
- Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline (800-392-0210)
- Social Services 855-343-4636
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program 800-309-3282
- CLAIM (800-390-3330)
- CLAIM is Missouri’s official State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) Agency. CLAIM provides free Medicare counseling in communities, online and over the phone. 1105 Lakeview Ave., Columbia, MO 65201
Home- and Community-Based Resources
- Missouri Care Planning Council (MoCPC) (800-989-8137)
- MoCPC lists companies and individual providers on its website who help families deal with the crisis and burden of long-term care.
Having gone over the many benefits and advantages of joining a caregiver support group, we hope you will take this opportunity to join an organization that can help you cope with the stress that comes with caregiving.
While many caregivers live with the burden of having to care for their loved ones with very little outside support, the truth is that it doesn’t need to be this way. Every caregiver deserves to be heard. Joining a group where you can express yourself and feel validated in your feelings can only serve to better your overall mental health and caregiving abilities.
Joining a support group can feel intimidating at first. But you will be surprised at how much relief you will feel when you join a community of people who are also going through the same struggles. Having a group of people who understand the stresses that come with caregiving can make you feel like you’re not alone.
If you’ve been on the fence about joining a support group, we hope this article has given you more confidence to pursue outside help. You work hard to care for your loved one, but over time this can lead to burnout. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this difficult time and find a support group that can help you navigate the stress of caregiving.