Should You Join a Caregiver Support Group?

How support groups can help caregivers, and what happens during group meetings

Are you a caregiver or do you know a caregiver who’s feeling stressed, overwhelmed, burned out, or depressed? Attending local caregiver support group meetings can be an effective way to reduce stress and boost spirits because participants can interact with others in similar situations, get useful advice, and find out about helpful local resources.

Studies have shown that support groups have a significant positive effect on caregivers’ well-being, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmingly burdened.

But it might seem intimidating to walk into a room full of strangers and feel obligated to share personal details about your caregiving situation and your less-than-positive feelings about your day-to-day challenges.

Here’s a summary of reasons that joining a caregiver support group can be well worth your time, and how typical meetings work.

The benefits of caregiver support groups

  • Get valuable caregiving tips and resources from social workers, health-care professionals, and experienced caregivers
  • Share and receive advice on managing challenging behaviors
  • Get and give support and advice on making difficult decisions or dealing with family conflicts
  • Learn how other caregivers cope with their situations and make time for themselves
  • Laugh and cry with other caregivers who truly understand your situation

How caregiver support group meetings work

  • A facilitator, often a social worker, leads the meetings
  • Each group has a regular schedule, usually weekly or monthly on the same day, and at the same time and location
  • Meetings usually last about two hours, but don’t let that stop you from attending. Tell the facilitator if you need to arrive late or leave early.
  • If you miss a meeting, no problem. You are not required to go regularly. Attend when you can or when you need extra support.
  • It’s completely optional to share. If you’d rather not speak, that’s OK—just let the facilitator know. Once you become more comfortable with the group, you’ll likely feel more inclined to share your experiences and knowledge.
  • During meetings, the facilitator usually asks participants to briefly introduce themselves and summarize their caregiving situation. Participants are then encouraged to ask questions, solicit advice about specific situations, or suggest topics for discussion.

How to find a caregiver support group near you
Check out the ISL community in your area. Many of our communities host caregiver support group meetings monthly and would love to see you join.