Have you considered joining a support group before? Amid the twists and turns of caregiving for someone recovering from a stroke, TBI, or living with another neurological condition, it’s completely understandable that hurdles along the way might leave you feeling overwhelmed and/or isolated at times. It might even feel like there’s not enough time to attend to your emotional needs with everything you have going on.
We get it: you have a lot on your plate. Moments like that, though, are the perfect time to consider reaching out for the lifeline of camaraderie that support groups can provide!
Support groups bring together people on similar journeys in a powerful network of shared understanding. This BrainWire will talk you through how to find the right support group for you and your loved one’s needs as you navigate brain rehabilitation together.
A support group is a gathering of people who share a common health condition, experience, or challenge. Those individuals come together, either online or in person, at regular meeting intervals to help each other cope with their experiences by providing emotional and practical support. Oftentimes, support groups have a specific focus—for example, stroke survivors or caregivers for people living with dementia.
Here are some of the benefits of attending that participants commonly report:
There are a few levels of research you can engage in to find the right support group for your loved one!
First, it can be helpful to decide: What is your loved one hoping to gain from the experience?
Once you know what type of support group your loved one is looking for, consider these tips for how to find the specific group that best aligns with their goals:
As we’ve written about in the past on BrainWire, you matter! Your dedication to your loved one is admirable. At the same time, it is essential to extend yourself the same grace and care that you give to your loved one—and one aspect of that lies in finding a support network. These groups are a great way to find such a group of people.
The same general principles for finding a support group for your loved one apply to finding one for yourself! Just as your loved one’s journey is unique, so, too, is your path as a caregiver.
In fact, there exist many specialized groups that are tailored to caregivers with particular backgrounds or who care for individuals with specific medical conditions. Some groups, for instance, connect people of a shared cultural background and caregiving experience. One example is the caregiver support group hosted by the Latino Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Alliance.
In addition, many national organizations—including several of those mentioned above—also host dedicated groups just for caregivers! This includes Triangle Aphasia Project’s support groups for care partners, Family Caregiver Alliance’s Caregiver Online Support Group, and the Brain Injury Association of America’s various caregiver support groups.
It goes without saying: caregiving demands a lot from you—emotionally, physically, and mentally. You are doing so much to support your loved one in every way possible on a daily basis. While that can undoubtedly be rewarding, it can also leave you needing support yourself.
We hope it provides comfort to know that you don’t have to go through that process alone, however. Even if you’re not a member of a formal group yet, you are already part of an extensive community that stands ready to uplift and guide you as you navigate the journey of caregiving. Joining a support group will simply allow you to consciously embrace that community so that you can take your next steps forward with strength in connection.