Caring for a spouse, parent or other family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is an immense commitment that often requires lifestyle changes and increases stress. It’s no surprise that many caregivers have difficulty making time to care for themselves in the midst of their responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many resources available for caregivers who find themselves in need of help and support. Here are three helpful resources we think all caregivers should explore:
A support group provides an outlet for caregivers to discuss the ups and downs of their experiences in an open, understanding environment. CMSS hosts a support group each month called Dealing with Dementia that is open to the public. This group provides caregivers with social support as well as insights and strategies for coping with stress and managing care. Additionally, guest speakers offer advice and educational resources. The group meets on the first Wednesday of every month from 5:00 to 6:00 pm at The Hartwell. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s and dementia support group or to RSVP, please call (773) 275-2400.
If Dealing with Dementia doesn’t fit into your schedule, there are plenty of other support groups in Chicagoland that meet regularly. For example, the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services offers drop-in meetings throughout the month at various locations across the city.
For some caregivers, individual or family counseling can be a worthwhile supplement or alternative to a support group. A counselor can assist in sorting out the complex emotions that often arise as a result of caring for a loved one with memory loss and can help you explore coping strategies tailored to your specific needs and situation. Fortunately for Chicagoland residents, there are many great options for caregiver counseling within our city. The Family Institute at Northwestern University has a strong reputation for supporting families through chronic illnesses and health challenges, and the Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center of the Salvation Army offers personalized in-home and in-office counseling services for caregivers.
Online forums and digital support groups are a useful venue for sharing experiences and advice with other caregivers. There are many popular message boards specifically for caregivers of those with memory loss such as Elder Care, Healing Well, and Alzheimer’s Association’s ALZConnected. These boards are especially helpful for caregivers who are seeking a quick answer to a memory care-related question and those who have difficulty leaving home to attend an in-person support group or meetup. Online forums can also be a great place to share the stories, thoughts and emotions that arise in your day-to-day life as a caregiver.
If you’re looking for more information than forums can provide, there are many online resources that can help. For example, The Alzheimer’s Association offers workshops, training sessions and handbooks for families and caregivers of individuals with memory loss.
Whether it be from a support group, family therapy or online forum, it’s crucial to seek out the care you need as a caregiver. Where do you turn for help and advice?