by Latorius Adams, MS
Caregivers come in all sizes, shapes, genders and ethnicities. However, they do have one thing in common. Caregivers are usually not prepared for their new role. There is no question that caregivers need support. Caregiving is hard and often leads to burnout or stress. If a Caregiver is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, or other mental issues, it can be especially difficult.
Because it often arrives unexpectedly, caretaking may become a full-time job, affecting free time and causing feelings of alienation because of the lack of support from friends and family members. Caregivers are silent heroes due to their devotion, commitment and self-sacrifice.
Caregiving is a tough and isolating experience. Fortunately, there are caregiving support groups that can help. Caregiver support groups are filled with people in similar situations. Finally! People who actually get what you are going through!
It is important for the caregiver to determine if a support group is appropriate for them. The best way to know is to attend a meeting and assess the dynamics of the group and the quality of the leadership. Caretakers can gain valuable information about resources from other caretakers in similar situations. Sharing stories and experiences is a great way to learn from others.
Support groups bring together people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences. The common experience among members of a support group often means they have similar feelings, worries, everyday problems, and experiences. Participating in a group provides you with an opportunity to be with people who are likely to have a common purpose and likely to understand one another.
Benefits of participating in a support group may include:
- Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
- Reducing distress, depression, anxiety or fatigue
- Talking openly and honestly about your feelings
- Improving skills to cope with challenges
- Staying motivated to manage chronic conditions or stick to treatment plans
- Gaining a sense of empowerment, control or hope
- Improving understanding of a disease and your own experience with it
- Getting practical feedback about treatment options
- Learning about health, economic or social resources
Taking care of someone can be a joy, but it can be difficult, even when it is someone you love. Most people who need care rely on family and friends for their support. Caregivers are present in approximately one out of every five households. Caregivers devote a large amount of time, energy, focus, and financial resources in providing care for their loved ones. This includes unpaid persons such as family members, friends, and neighbors of all ages
who are providing care. Family caregivers serve as a critical component in providing the long-term care for older adults.
The Harnett County Division on Aging offers a Family Caregiver Support Program. This national program was established in November 2000 under the Older Americans Act of 1965, to help support family members caring for an aging loved one. The Harnett County Family Caregiver Support Program provides information about available services, assistance gaining access to services, caregiver trainings, respite care, and supplemental services.
For more information about the Family Caregiver Program, or the support groups, contact Latorius Adams, Family Caregiver Support Program Coordinator at 910-814-6075 or log onto the Division on Aging website at www.harnett.org/aging.
Latorius Adams, MS
Family Caregiver Support Program Specialist / Medicare Counselor
Harnett County Government Complex
309 W. Cornelius Harnett Blvd.
Lillington, NC 27546