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Starting and Running A Caregiver Support Group

By Suzette Levy

(Page 1 of 6)

There are millions of caregivers in the United States and they all have common needs:  recognition, counseling, support, information, problem sharing and, in many cases, peer socializing.

One of the proven ways that many of these needs can be met is by the formation of a local Caregiver Support Group.  Caregivers are one of Americaís most valuable assets, but often their needs are lost in the care recipientsí problems.  Therefore, having a place where caregivers can be themselves, share experiences and insights and have the positive input of their peers is critical.

What is a Support Group and how do you Start One?

A caregiver support group is a regularly scheduled, informal gathering of people whose lives are directly or indirectly affected by the caregiving needs of another and who benefit from peer acceptance and recognition for their common concerns and are grateful for the wisdom, insight and humor of their fellow caregivers.

Who Runs a Support Group?

Informal support groups generally are created by one or more individuals dealing with a loved one who have an illness in common such as Parkinsonís disease, or age (grandma) or category (kids with special needs) that decide they need to reach out and share to help others and themselves. It doesnít take special training, but it does take effort, dedication and ingenuity.

Coordinator Responsibilities

  • The coordinator must be dedicated to the cause of helping other people.

  • The coordinator needs to be supportive, realistic, reassuring and empathetic.

  • Must be able to assess the needs of the individuals and the group as a whole.

  • Plan programs.

  • Recruit members.

  • Set up meetings.

  •  Lead group discussions.

  • Distribute information.

  • Publicize the group.


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