Prescription: Join a Support Group
by Sharon K. Brothers, MSW
CEO, Institute for Professional Care Education
In our caregiver support group we often talk about our caregiving experience as a journey.
Some days, you’re slogging through some pretty deep muck. You feel like you’re battling to get anything done. You feel like you’re doing nothing but battling with — or for — your loved one.
Some days, you’re hiking up a steep hill in shale. It takes every bit of effort you have to move a few steps forward — and then you slide almost all the way back to your starting point. The saying, “Three steps forward and two back” feels like positive thinking.
Then there are those rare days when the sun breaks through the clouds and you feel blessed and so very privileged to be able to care for someone you love.
In our group, we listen to other people’s stories. We reassure them (“No, you’re not crazy!”) and we reassure ourselves (“At least I don’t have to deal with THAT!”).
If we’re lucky, we find a lot to laugh about, from one caregiver’s story about her mom, (“So then she said…”) to another’s joke (“You know you’re crazy when…”).
By the end of the evening, we’re all glad we came. We’re relieved that we could share our challenges, and listen to others. We feel a little glow inside as we realize that we’re not alone on this treacherous journey through uncharted land.
I hear from families who can’t get to the support groups. Often, they’re the ones that could use the support and encouragement the most. They have no one to give them a little break; to stay with the person in their care so they can get out and get refreshed.
When it comes to caregiving, like so many of life’s most challenging tasks, it does, indeed, take a village. Don’t go it alone. Find a support group in your local community and check it out. It just might be the prescription that saves your sanity!