When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, a person’s world is turned upside down. Spouses and children may be suddenly launched into a full-time job caring for a dementia patient, and it can be difficult to juggle both caregiving and daily living. For caregivers, it can feel alienating and emotionally exhausting.
There is no instruction manual on how to be a caregiver. Everyone has their own unique story and situation.However, it can be beneficial to learn how other people are coping with the demands of being a caregiver. That is why caregiver support groups are excellent tools for both experienced and new caregivers.
One of the most frequent questions new caregivers asks is: “Is this normal?” In a support group, they may find that the answer is “yes.” Caregivers learn to accept a new “normal.” Support groups are a great place to ask for advice and resources without any fear of judgment. They also can act as a positive outlet for caregivers to express their frustrations and fears, and find much needed social interaction.
Along with providing quality care to our participants, Alzheimer’s Family Center cares for caregivers as well. The center offers a plethora of resources from counseling and community workshops, to referrals to resources in the community. One especially useful service we offer is support groups.
Led by social worker Brenda Ramirez, the group meets twice a month from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The sessions give caregivers the opportunity to build their knowledge of the disease and skills from medical professionals and their peers. It also gives them a chance to talk about what issues they may have. Sometimes people find themselves losing patience with their loved ones or trying too hard to be the perfect caregiver. Ramirez aims to make AFC support groups a safe place to help normalize those feelings.
If you are interested in learning more about our support groups, please contact AFC at (714) 593-9630.
This post was written in collaboration with Brenda Ramirez M.S.W., one of our wonderful social workers at Alzheimer’s Family Center.