I participated in several online caregiver support groups before I started my own. I am a co admin with Diane Carbo on Facebook:Senior Caregivers as well as with Caregiver Relief.
One of the reasons for having a support group is to gain emotional support and encouragement from others going through similar experiences. One of the main reasons for having an on-line support group for caregivers is because the duties and tasks we must perform often do not have a set schedule, and we just don’t always have the ability to “meet” at a certain time. Because we are so busy taking care of our loved ones does not mean we don’t also need the support of a like-minded group – in fact, it’s even more important for us, in many ways. It’s true that we become “shut ins” as much as our patients do.
We become just as isolated in this narrow little world in which we have to live. Our conversation skills suffer, because we often don’t really speak to anyone else that much; we forget how to make small talk, how to discourse about world events or literature or whatever. A lot of times this situation worsens because friends tend to fade away. They don’t know what to say. They are uncomfortable with what we are going through. Sometimes they might want to help but don’t really know how.
In some cases, they may be reminded of similar situations in their lives, and feel guilty that they don’t help out more with their parents, grandparents, whomever. They don’t really understand the medical ins and outs of what we deal with, and they don’t know how to address it. They don’t realize how much good it would do us to talk about something else for a change…. And they may just know that we’re busy, and don’t know when would be a good time to call or visit.
Online Caregiver Support Groups- Why I Help…
And we just let them go, let them slip gradually out of our lives, because we’re too tired, too beaten down to reach out and interact with them. It gets to be too much of an effort to even try. But for our own sakes, we SHOULD try. We may not always be successful. But we need to make the effort to reach out to friends, to even make new ones. There have been too many studies that have conclusively proved that caregivers’ lives can be hell.
We end up neglecting ourselves – our health, our finances, our mental well-being – to take care of our loved ones. We “know” this… but we forget to act on it because we are just. so. tired…. The greatest irony is that when we DO manage to get away and have a bit of a break, go somewhere, meet a friend, do something different for just an hour or two, it can actually rejuvenate and refresh us, so we are better prepared for the next caregiving task. Doing something nice for ourselves, something we enjoy, releases endorphins that actually help us, make us feel better. It would be a wonderful world if everyone helped to take care of the caregivers they know. But since the world is not perfect, sometimes the caregivers need to remember, and to not be ashamed, to ask for that help, to reach out for it, to try to end their own isolation.