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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 01/18/11
I looked for a support group some time ago, but all the ones close to me were specifically for people with elderly parents with some specific disease.  Maybe that is due to the fact that most of them are run by elderly care facilities.  It doesn't help me because my mom is a relatively healthy 86-year-old; I take care of her because she does not drive anymore.  What if I started my own support group for people with elderly parents (with a non-specific category) here?  Do you have any tips on how I could go about doing that?  I am in Wayne County, Michigan.  Thanks for any and all help you can give me or direct me to. 



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Name: Karen Boerger
Location: Irwin, OH
Date: 01/19/2011
Time: 09:18 PM


Hi, B - Our county Senior Services director wanted to start a caregivers' support group last year. My friend and I were asked to host it each month as we have two books out this past year to support and encourage caregivers. We deal strictly with general topics - not disease specific because there are already those groups. We have about 24 caregivers attend each month. We make sure they laugh and talk among themselves. It's been going strong for 9 months and a neighboring county has visited our group and now we're helping them begin the process beginning in April. We love caregivers! Best wishes to you.

Name: Michelle
Location: Fairfax County VA
Date: 01/19/2011
Time: 08:52 AM


I think your idea is great! This is a little training that might be helpful or you might try asking a local aging services Social Worker or Nurse to start out as the leader. There may be other caregivers that have a lot of support group experience that might be able to be a leader. What you don't want is your group to become just a complaint session, but have some specific structure and someone with a good knowledge base to add to the peer support you give one another. As a professional I got some of my best training interning in 4 Alzheimer's Association groups, and then used the knowledge for general groups I've lead. You can contact me if you like at Fairfax Area Agency on Aging 703-324-5411 or

Name: janice stanke
Location: woodside, n.y.
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 09:37 PM


Hi B, I do hear what your mom is relatively a healthy 86 year old...who recently is living with myself and my husband..I recently went to get her to join group to enjoy talking, playing bingo, which she loves..I feel she raised me, now i raise her...if you start a support group, let me know...thanks, jan

Name: Alicia
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 07:58 PM


I started a support group just a year ago though a local church. You might want to consider a care facility/community or muncipal location, ie. libaray etc. Be prepared to bring ideas/tips/suggestions to encourage converation so it does not become a "coffee kalatch" so all are encouraged to share their concerns/needs/thoughts. Advertise/promote in local/senior papers sometimes it is free, flyers in drs. offices, grocery stores, churches, community (senior) centers. It does take some time and work but can be very wishes on your venture much needed in todays society. With caring thougths, Alicia/

Name: Linda Gilman
Location: Bettendorf, IA
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 01:41 PM


First, I would like to acknowledge you for assisting your mom and, for being proactive in supporting others who, like you, just help out. You don't have to have a degree to facilitate a support group. You do have to have 1. a place, 2. a plan (what are you offering), 3. the commitment. Start with a plan in your community.... What is it that you can offer these caregivers? Just meeting once a month isn't's providing these caregivers with resources and the knowing that they aren't unique; there are others out there doing the same thing and would love to "vent" to others with a similar story. That being said, I would be happy to help you put something together, if you'd like. I've been facilitating support groups for five years and have found it, not only rewarding-- but helpful, as well. Take care and good luck, Linda Gilman MS, LPC Gerontologist

Name: Mr. Chris Cremean
Location: Swanton, Ohio
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 09:07 AM


I have developed a program called Caregiver Links that incorporates support, education and referrals to the family caregiver. This approach is more responsive to any caregiver's situation. go to Send any inquiry and you will receive a response either by email or phone.

Name: craig jennings
Location: New York
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 08:33 AM


If you dare to start your own support group, Caring For The Caregiver would like to support you. It turns out that Caregivers are marvelous at helping others, dreadful at helping themselves! We built a support group for our program - see our website at - and expected people to come and dump. To our surprise, they began healing - and it was because of the other caregivers in the support-group! Have a look at the Caring Circle which we've established, and which we want to bring to 5 communities on Long Island this year. We'd be happy to support your Caring Circle as well. Craig Jennings

Name: Denise
Location: Miami, FL
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 06:58 AM


Although this recommendation is disease-specific, the National Parkinson Foundation does have a free support group leaders manual that you can download for free from their website. It has some ideas that you can use whether for Parkinson's disease or not. and click on "search all manuals" to find it.

Name: Edie Hardwick
Location: Middlebury, CT
Date: 01/18/2011
Time: 06:41 AM


HI B, Wonderful idea! Although I offer support groups in our area of CT for caregivers of those with Alzheimer's disease, you have a great idea! As our parents age, there are issues even with healthy people in their 80's and 90's. The key is that you want to keep your mother heathy! So, the best thing is to be in contact with her MD re: any medical issues, also you can contact your local area agency on aging. They might be very helpful to identify how to create a support group. My own mother is a healthy 94, largely because she has a wonderfully supportive environment and lots of family and friends. I think that loneliness and isolation are the worst things for older adults, and keeping people healthy means keeping people connected and involved. I hope you are able to create a support group and that the local area agency on aging will be of help to you! Take care, Edie Hardwick Middlebury, CT



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