As one year winds down and we begin looking forward to the next, we’re often tempted to look at our lives and dream of ways we can improve things in the new year.
Perhaps that means looking for ways to make life better for ourselves as caregivers or for other caregivers around us. That’s one reason, in fact, that Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center started Caregiver Connection support groups in Bellingham and Lynden — we truly believe that they improve the quality of life for those who attend. In the next few months, we’ll be focusing on foot care, fall prevention and local resources for caregivers.
Caregiver Connection isn’t the only support group in town, either. A few others, including ones offered by the Alzheimer Society of Washington, provide needed relief and peer support for loving family caregivers throughout Whatcom County.
If you’re dreaming of ways to improve life in the new year, here are some simple, actionable ways that peer support groups can help you make changes for the better:
Support groups can help you learn that you’re not alone. By its nature, caregiving can be a lonely job. You’re working hard with your loved one all day, often in the seclusion of home, and every day it becomes easier to forget that even in your own community there are hundreds of other caregivers feeling just like you are. Attending a peer support group can change all that. Make new friends, learn tips and tricks for dealing with various issues (loved ones who wander, technology in caregiving, elder law and much more), and generally discover that you’re part of a large community of like-minded people all working hard for the people they love.
Support groups can help you put yourself first. At caregiver support meetings, the needs of the caregiver come first. In order to do the best job they can, caregivers must be able to take care of their own needs. Support group meetings not only offer lessons on how to do that throughout the month, but they serve as a reminder of just how valuable a little “me time” can be.
Support groups can give you encouragement to ask for help.
Often, people feel guilty for needing help caring for a spouse, parent or other loved one. Caregiver support groups offer an opportunity to work through that by enabling conversations with others who are in your shoes. Caregiving is a difficult task, and there’s absolutely no shame in needing assistance. Another benefit of support groups is that they can help caregivers prepare their loved ones for accepting help, too.
No matter how it may seem sometimes, you are definitely not alone. Not only do you have a lot of friends and supporters here at NWADH, but you have friends waiting for you at peer group meetings, too. We hope to see you there in the new year!