Caring for a loved one can be hard, so it is really important to establish a strong network which can support you on a regular basis. Caring for your loved one can be mentally and physically exhausting, so it is incredibly important to look after your own well-being alongside theirs. Carer support groups are a valuable resource for any carer. They can provide emotional support and enable you to connect with other people that understand exactly what you’re going through.
It is important to sometimes put yourself first and find someone to talk to about the strain being a carer can take. Stress can build up when you’re caring for someone every day and have little interaction with others outside the home. A great way to relieve this is to share your experiences with those who have gone through similar things. Find a group of people who are caring for someone in a similar situation to you; this makes the support offered even more valuable as they can give you advice on anything you may be struggling with.
Reaching out and opening up can seem daunting, but remember that everyone in the group is in the same boat and can offer you a helping hand or simply listen to your story. Everyone’s situation is different, and other carers can empathise with and respect this. Both online and offline, these communities create an environment where it’s okay to ask for help and isn’t tseen as an act of weakness.
There are two different types of support groups available to carers: online communities and in-person support groups that meet on a regular basis. Online support groups have the advantage of being accessible from any location, which is useful if you are unable to easily leave the person you are caring for. They can also be anonymous, which means if you are tentative about partaking in a support group or uncomfortable about opening up, there isn’t the pressure to reveal your identity. This is not to suggest that connections formed online are less tangible or helpful than those made at in-person meetings. However, the networks available to you are larger online as they provide a platform upon which you can connect with anyone around the world in the same situation as yourself.
The alternative to an online group is a local support group that meets on a regular basis, normally in a community space. These are good as they provide a regular slot for you to put some time aside for yourself and take a break from being a carer. In-person support groups for carers often hold activities during their meetings, so they’re a fantastic opportunity to let your hair down and enjoy yourself with like-minded people.
Below are some organisations that might be able to help you with finding a support group that suits your needs. Putting some time aside for yourself is vital to helping maintain your health and emotional well-being in the long-term, which in turn will allow you to look after your loved one to the best of your ability going forward.
- Carers UK
- Dementia Care Central
- Parkinsons UK
- Cancer Research UK
- Cancer Council
- British Heart Foundation