It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness or someone close to you has died. You may be struggling to cope, feeling sadness or uncertainty, and maybe guilt as well. Feeling alone or isolated in your grief or worry may make your situation feel even harder.
Support groups can help. These bring together people who are going through a similar experience, whether it is illness, injury, grief and bereavement, or the ravages of dementia, the stresses of caregiving, or addiction in its many forms.
There are many different kinds of support groups. A professionally facilitated group is led by an expert, such as a social worker or therapist, who keeps the discussion on topic, encourages interaction and makes sure no one person dominates the session. A peer support group has no designated leader, but is run by the members; this is the model used famously by Alcoholics Anonymous. There are online groups too, both ongoing and time-limited, which offer an alternative to people who are crunched for time, have limited choices in their location, or prefer anonymity. A simple Google or Facebook search will lead you to a myriad of options. Educational groups focus heavily on information sharing and feature a guest speaker and are often sponsored by associations (such as the Alzheimer’s Association), hospitals, and assisted livings or universities.
The benefits of support groups are well documented. Talking openly and honestly can relieve stress and anxiety. Members develop a clearer understanding of what to expect. Group members are able to get (and share) practical advice from others in the same situation.
If you’re not sure which kind of support group is best for you, try out a few. I also recommend going more than once before deciding whether or not this is the group for you.
JFS will be partnering with other local organizations to offer two different support groups this fall:
Alzheimer’s Support Group for Family Caregivers at the Natick Community Senior Center (117 East Central St, Natick MA 01760) — Meets on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, 2:00-3:00 PM
The next Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting will be Wednesday, November 20.
Bereavement Support Group at Temple Shir Tikva (141 Boston Post Rd, Wayland MA 01778) — Meets twice monthly on Monday evenings, 7:30-8:45 PM
The next Bereavement Support Group meeting will be Monday, November 18.
If you need help finding or selecting a support group, please call me.
I can walk you through your options and help find the best fit for you.
Malka Young is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager. Email her at email@example.com.
– Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions
– Advanced Professional Member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
-Certified Care Manager
– Short & Long Term Planning
– Guidance with Housing Options
– Care Coordination
– Discharge Planning
– Advocacy & Monitoring
– Family support